Report Yes You Can Meeting Amsterdam May 21-22, 2014

The Yes You Can Meeting in Amsterdam in May included 6 hours of internal discussions on the carried out Survey on Fundraising, the planned Inventory of Funds, and an exchange on Experiences with Domestic Funds and on future Publishing of Results, for which a website www.yesyoucanproject.com was built. 

Study visits were made to a domestic Fund that presented a Long Live Art Funding Program for older persons and to the Stedelijk Museum (that presented the content and funding experiences of a Alzheimer Tour Program. A Workshop Fundraising by a professional fundraiser was attended and a presentation was attended on content and funding of Music Generations - an intergenerational and intercultural singing program.

Also the group was welcomed by Deputy Mayor Ivar Manuel of Stadsdeel Oost Amsterdam and some of his staff who shared their insights on the role of culture in relation to the diversity and age structure of the local population.

The informal part of the program included a guided tour through the centre, lunch at the Stedelijk Museum, a dinner in a typical Amsterdam restaurant at the waterfront in the former Red Light District. After dinner on the first day Music Generation singers performed quite successfully on the stage of the Casablanca Theatre for the group. All in all a good atmosphere and a working mood characterised these two days in Amsterdam.

For attendance of this two day meeting see Attachment 1, the signed participants list.

Survey on Fundraising

Elke Tippelmann (BAGSO Germany) presented first results of the Survey for which a questionnaire was produced in February of this year, coordinated by her, and translated in the national languages. The Question List was meant for gathering a first qualitative insight of developments in the field and it was obviously appreciated highly by the group and also by those who answered the questions. For Questionnaire see Attachment 2 - the English version. Yes You Can is concentrating its effort on smaller NGOs, which is a reason why it took time to communicate with them and get back completed questionnaires (55 until the Amsterdam meeting). It will take some more weeks before a final report on the results can be produced. More completed forms are still expected from Malta, France, Netherlands and Germany. Elke said that it appears from the outcome that organisations working for vulnerable people are often understaffed or work only with volunteers, and are interested in knowing more about fundraising and would like to take part in the transfer of acquired knowledge in the framework of future Yes You Can workshops, nationally or internationally.

Some preliminary outcomes in terms of ideas and content were discussed at the meeting. There appears to be overall a lack of knowledge in the field, on financial, technical, editorial and legal issues,  but there is willingness to learn the principles and how to structure, organise and carry out fundraising. Though many organisations are understaffed for fundraising there is a lot of creativity going on and it is not always money that is needed, but for instance just materials, meeting rooms, a wheelchair, and a website. Creative organisations look for reciprocal relations. They for instance cook and sell the food for money.

All over Europe NGOs no longer only address the local city board. They look for multi-source-funding. An example was given of the phenomenon that churches in most countries are downsizing and NGOs are trying to protect the heritage of buildings which brings (legal) ownership-issues at light. To whom belong those beautiful cathedrals? Another issue is that inexperienced organisations would like to have more money but have no idea how to formulate what they want or need in such terms that a fund is comfortable with it. So education should involve such issues. Some local governments or local funds are providing now education on fundraising. Some new initiatives deal simply with attitudes, such as the problem of not even daring to ask for support at all. Examples of these will be treated in our inventories.

Action points: completed application forms are to be sent by the latest 10 June to Elke Tippelman; The report will then become finalised in the week after and added to the midterm report on Yes You Can for the Gruntvig Management by June 20 the latest

Inventory of Funds

The intention of the participants in Yes You Can is to produce an Inventory of public and private funds available and accessible for NGOs with a cultural role for disadvantaged people, national, regional and local funds included. With the exception of countries in which such inventories already exist, each of them does this from the local perspective in which they are working.  In order to explain this perspective Lidia Koziel-Siudut presented an overview of the actual funding entities in Krakow Poland for the purpose of defining a possible structure for the Yes You Can Inventory. See therefore attachment nr 3 Polish structure.  In a few slides it shows the structure; starting with the programmes of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, subdivided into artistic events, collections, promotion of literature, preserving of culture, education, cultural heritage and cultural infrastructures. But also other Ministries, Lower Level Governments and other State Institutions do have funding opportunities. There is the private level of foundations that give money to organisations or more often to innovative projects.

Lidia discussed with the group, a clear and obvious trend towards EU inspired professionalisation in fundraising. This may cause on the one hand a greater barrier for understaffed and voluntary NGOs, but on the other hand may support them through structured application procedures and forms. This would enable NGOs to formulate and structure their applications more clearly and later on to manage the project more efficiently and effectively. Poland has been a member of the EU ten years and steadily everybody seems to make progress. Moreover: help structures, help desks have been created which give advice, or pre-check an application and give feedback on eligibility and other issues. Complete with Q&A's and checklists a.s.o..

The competition is huge. The amount of those ASKING FOR money may sometimes be 150 times the number of those who GET money. So Yes You Can may report such 'inefficiencies' in fundraising practice, because time investment usually is enormous on the side of askers and often also for the givers. A positive development is that some funds explicitly reach out to small organisations and facilitate this. The Krakow Museums consideration on strategy is to reach out to small NGO's for multipurpose reasons and mutual benefits. Small organisations open the door to disadvantaged persons, may learn from cooperation and bring visitors to the museum who in turn may get positive energy from the interaction with art.

Several aspects of trends in local fundraising in the partnership were discussed hereafter.  For instance there is a trend that public sector bodies no longer themselves decide on money giving, but have installed an 'independent' council of experts to do so to prepare a well considered decision. In this way less political involvement and bias is to be expected.

Action Points: partners watch out for examples and best practices on fundraising, structures, strategies, tactics, support and learning from the local and NGO viewpoint. A framework or a model for the inventory may come out of the analysis of discussions so far.

Intermezzo with Gijs Hendrix, cultural broker for Stadsdeel Oost (Amsterdam East) His short but very interesting presentation on the cultural policy of this city-part underlined the tendency towards independent councils of experts that decide on allocation of money. Stadsdeel Oost gives money on a structural basis to institutions (theatres etc), to festivals and to art-projects. Normally there are 100 competitors and 20 projects get awarded. An independent committee of independent experts (changing every two years) takes the decisions. Preconditions are: max 10% overhead costs, max 50% subsidy, broad partnerships and access for all to the results of the projects. And because they also reallocate tax payers money of low income people a spread of the results of this investment of money to all cultural and all income groups and all ages is the aim. A cultural centre is available for exhibitions and all kinds of presentations. Civil servants are available every Friday for free advice on how to participate.

Intermezzo with Ivar Manuel, Deputy Mayor of Stadsdeel Oost

The Yes You Can Consortium also had the honour to be welcomed and spoken to by Deputy Mayor Ivar Manuel. In a pleasant conversation Ivar showed himself eager to get acquainted with the project’s aims and results. He explained the cultural policies of Stadsdeel Oost and answered questions. He explained for example that the city is trying to compensate a little bit for the severe cultural budget cuts from central government of the recent past, but is of course restricted by limited resources. Nevertheless the city does a lot, also on creating new attitudes around independent living and ageing, expecting from older persons to be responsible themselves (together with their environment) for their personal health and their own networks in times of tribulation. But surely issues of safety and access for all are on the local agenda and cultural participation keeps playing a role in creating a society for all.

Workshop with professional fundraiser Jaap Sanders

In this workshop Jaap Sanders from Adviesbureau Jaap Sanders, guided the participants through the basics and the do's and don't's of fundraising and sponsoring aimed at public and private funds. In his definition charities are money collectors and funds and sponsors are money donators.

1. The first and foremost problem is mostly the inability of NGOs to formulate what they want concisely and comprehensively. A real barrier is that funds and money givers often do not have time or patience. So it is important for NGOs to formulate their goals succinct, to the point and understandable. Always take care to formulate one short sentence that contains the complete message.

2. Make very clear who you are, establish yourselves as a reliable and credible organisation, so that donors will trust you. Present yourself as an organisation, not as a person. If you think you have insufficient credibility, than 'borrow' some credibility: ask a good standing member of the community to be on your board or to attend an event.

3. Be aware that you are dealing with knowledgeable people who know the territory and the ways. So come with a good plan with well considered elements and a time plan. Have your finances in order, be prepared at any moment for questions, have your stories ready for when the phone rings. And follow up on calls immediately.

4.  Be very precise on the budget, never ask too much or too little, because funds can look through wrong or exaggerated figures. Don't forget any costs because this might harm the final result. If you get for instance funding for a fisherman boat in Africa and you have forgotten the ice machine, the fish will rot and the project will fail. This would be very bad for your own reputation and the fund's reputation.

5.  Create partnerships, look for support of other NGOs that are sympathetic to your goal. In many cases this can be done by creating a separate organisation for fundraising purposes: For instance a legal entity called Friends of the Museum, with a separate responsibility and a separate account, to which a fund can relate to and donate.

Example: in order to build a new school the Jewish community in a city approached Christian NGOs to support their endeavour, which was successful because of emotions connected to the past. This brought considerable extra funds to the project. There is always some emotion or some theme in a project that another organisation can connect to. You have to identify and use this.

6. Take care of wisely rolling out a project and show that you are responsibly spending the money. How are you spending 'my money?' a fund or sponsor will always be thinking. And if some money is left over, never hide this and always check with the giver what to do with it. This shows you are responsible and keen on a long term relationship.

7. Keep contact with the money giver. Send newsletters about the project, pay attention to the donator in your annual report. Take care of quotes of people involved, supporting or profiting from the project (such as a builder in the case of the Jewish school).

8. Try to get good and important people on the board of your charity or in a council of advice. It helps if they attach their names to your project. And invite high placed persons to the presentation of the final result - an opening - or whatever.

The aforementioned Jewish school invited the queen, who did not come, but who did sent her sister which was good enough to attract a television team to broadcast the opening. Big names help.

9. Make clear that you were able to attract money from other sources or contributions in kind. So you can tell the fund that you need X minus Y and you can specify where the money is coming from. In The Netherlands co-funding is always necessary, with the only exception of government subsidies that may cover the whole budget, but even governments are happy with cofunders.

10.  Provide long term phasing and planning. Larger projects need a time plan that tells the funder how much is needed in year 1, year 2, year 3 etc. So the fund can spread the donations over the years. And report on every phase regularly. Do not hesitate to adapt the project to challenges on the road and involve new partners in next phases if needed.

11. Define the problems you are addressing and the solutions very well. Try to find out wether other organisations or people are benefiting as well. For instance is a project good for the neighbourhood, the cultural sector, or does it involve others than older people? The more categories are benefiting of a project the higher is the chance of getting a project funded. Different angles bring more perspectives. Each fund has to be approached with the right messages. Adapt your story to each fund - this is not the same as lying - give them the angle that they like.

12. Throw the net as wide as possible. Approach all funds that relate to aspects of the project. It is a lot of work, but it is often very rewarding.

A discussion enveloped on issues such as whether or not employing commercial fundraisers. Jaap Sanders' experience is that most funds in The Netherlands understand that many NGOs do not have staff on the payrole available for fundraising and accept payment of external expert advice. Support of a professional may strengthen organisations with a lack of tradition in fundraising and lack of internal resources. It may contribute to the quality of a project. But it is wise to check this with the fund beforehand. Museums mostly have staff available for fundraising. What would be the moral difference if they would outsource specialist work on fundraising? Somebody has to do the work.

Even so Elke Tippelman says that European conditions often exclude the use of external fundraisers. The EU wishes organisations to include this work in their daily operations, but small organisations often cannot afford this.

Study Visit to Funds RCOAK and Sluyterman van Loo

The group visited the very old and beautiful offices of the Fund RCOAK, which was established more than 400 years ago as a catholic foundation to support frail old people. Its role in the local and national society slowly evolved from donations to old persons to donations to innovative projects that older persons can benefit from. This was explained by director Frieda Pater and her colleague Koeno Sluyterman van Loo from the Sluyterman van Loo Fund (which operates in the same area and develops in the same direction) but has different scopes and priorities. The money comes from old private capital, put available in the long time past. Together these two funds are carrying out a funding program Long Live Art that is meant to stimulate artistic performance, artistic production and cultural participation of older people. The concept was born at a conference in which became clear that artistic and cultural participation helps older people to stay healthy and keep them vital and participating in the society for longer. But there are barriers when you get older; the threshold to participation is getting higher. Their endeavour was strengthened by a rising interest of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, which promotes prolonged societal participation, and therefore joined the partnership on Long Live Art. So diverse roads are followed now by the funds. Hundreds of smaller local initiatives are being supported through an easy and accessible application process to get the program going and noticed. In nine Dutch regions quartermasters are paving the way for joined activities. At an international convention on 22/23 May 2015 results and progress will be discussed and shared with other countries. Amateurs will be involved and professional guidance will be a cornerstone of the projects to guarantee a certain level of quality. For the guidance professional artists (not necessarily Dutch artists) will be involved. It is thought that a new market for professional artists may develop. And of course intergenerational relationships will be encouraged.

Actions: when interested Yes You Can participants can join the convention in May 2015

Presentation and discussion on the website and publishing

In the morning of the second day Ramazan Cem presented the newly designed website www.yesyoucanproject.com to the group and got praise for the accessible and attractive design. The website informs visitors on the aims of the project, the back ground of the participants and gives access to documents relating to project strategies, methods and results. Parts of the website can provide information in the eight partner languages. The website is made to promote the project and extra features such as a button for Facebook and LinkedIn may complete this function. Gradually the website will be filled with documents.

Partners were kindly asked to check information about them and give feedback to Cem.

The relating Facebook page is facebook.com/yesyoucanproject.

Internal group communication is now facilitated by Email and Google Group Mail. Some partners (BAGSO, Cap Ulysse, and Krakow National Museum) already communicated news on the Yes You Can Initiative through their own websites, newsletters and articles. Such examples will also be published on the website as far as relevant of course. It is good to combine news on the project with relevant publicity opportunities in each country.

End of June the midterm report will be send to the Grundtvig Program Management as required. The report will or can include attachments such as Questionnaire, Report on results of the survey and internal reports. 

Exchange on experiences in Fundraising via Domestic Funds 2014-2020

In this international exchange the Yes You Can partners reported on activities, ideas and experiences in their own countries relating to building up the joined expertise on domestic fundraising. So discussions took place on trends, discovery of new (types of) funds etc. Some trends were indicated. Some are probably interesting enough to include as a good practice in an inventory.

It was decided to consider the structuring of information with the help of keywords such as: Innovation, partnership, digitalisation, multimedia, multisource funding, sustainability, feasibility, dissemination and exploitability, implementation and the like.

Visit to Stedelijk Museum's Alzheimer Tour Program 22 May 2014

At the Stedelijk Museum a quite interesting presentation was given by expert Stefanie Metsemakers on the Alzheimer Tour Programme, named 'Onvergetelijk Stedelijk.' The museum joined forces with the Eindhoven Van Abbe Museum for this program. Stefanie herself learned to know such programs when she was working at the Moma Museum in New York which has a long term tradition in issues of accessibility of the museum for disabled people. The US is far ahead of the EU in regulating equal access of public buildings and institutions. This is due in part to the moral outcry of an ageing population and partly because for any institution nowadays addressing access issues and needs of ageing people is also a matter of long term survival. The museum also reaches out to families, schools, young people, those with Dutch as second language.

After an explanation on the general task of the museum, Its reopening recently after 8 years of renovation and the educational philosophy (in which peer to peer education is important), Stefanie described some other preconditions the museum is fulfilling, such as free transport for disabled persons. In the Alzheimer Tour Program which is based on scientific knowledge (from the Free University Amsterdam) as well as gut feeling, the museum looks beyond the diseases people are suffering from. This is a program carried out with deep respect and with the main goal of adapting to what older people with Alzheimer’s are still able to grasp or to do. The Tour should be fun and entertaining and offer the patients and their carers opportunities to learn to know each other, liaise and socialize, perhaps even build friendships. After more than a year it is clear that 92% of the participants keeps coming back. From a survey it appears they have less emotional problems, more self esteem and need less social support than a control group. The program obviously contributes to the quality of life of patients and carers. The museum works with carefully selected and trained guides who take care of a positive, safe and warm atmosphere. A tour lasts 1.5 hours and involves the study of 4 or 5 works of art. Every participant gets a light flip up chair to avoid getting tired. Crowded, noisy places are avoided. The selcted works of art are observed on content, messages, style, colour, identification opportunities etc in dialogue with the patients. In the dialogue observing, describing, interpreting, connecting and summarising are key elements. The first team of guides that were trained by Moma speak clearly and with humour, they ask open questions, notice non verbal reactions, are keen on interaction and never will say that an answer is wrong. Scent, music, sounds can be added to the experience. There is a lot of laughter. And the costs are minimal:   7,50 per visit.

In the preparation of the program, the funding traject, the kick off, the promotion etc all staff members were all the time engaged. From restaurant workers to security staff and director were trained in inclusive thinking: how to serve specific groups. It makes the work more interesting and brings the museum a lot more visitors. Additionally Alzheimer and Dementia patients can attend professionally guided workshops.

The funding strategy usually includes steps to be taken from the good idea, via identification of interested partners and foundations, to cooperation with universities and other museums and realisation. In this case there appeared to be a lot of interest and commitment to at least run and finance the program for three years. Funding was gained from foundations in the field of ageing, general funds and some interested private companies. It helps that seniors are hot as a target group in the Netherlands. However, the Alzheimer Association and Informal Carers Association Mezzo are not yet partners, but Stefanie estimates they may come on board as well.

Summarising Stefanie made clear that the program is very visible now in the country, is copied to other museums (Stedelijk Museum helps with the training) and does not need a lot of advertising since mouth to mouth contacts bring plenty new people to the museum. And there are the success stories now. Such as the story on the Alzheimer patient who did not leave her house for more than three years and who is now a regular visitor.

Presentation Conny Groot on Music Generations

Music Generations is a new program in The Netherlands born from ten years of experience in working with initially older musical talents and later on a mixture of older and younger talents. Coordinator Conny Groot explained the roots of the program in the year 2001 when harbourcities Rotterdam in The Netherlands and Porto in Portugal became European Cultural Capital and decided to support a singing competition under the title Euro+ Songfestival.  The hunting and training of talents from diverse cultures (in Rotterdam more than two hundred languages are spoken) was quite successful and attracted soon enough quite large audiences at performances. From research into the results it was concluded that such programs that rooted in the neighbourhoods of Rotterdam contributed to the well being of older people and did seduce older people to visit concert halls more often. So this win win situation was continued for a number of years and got a new intergenerational dimension by inviting also young people to participate and bringing them into a creative dialogue and cocreation with the older participants. This appeared to be a successful strategy because now a mix of much more diverse musical generations could be brought onto stage. More performances could be given in very different locations such as neighbourhood houses, care facilities, older people’s associations, smaller and bigger theatres and so on. With as one highlight last year’s performances in Turkey, in the framework of 400 years of friendship between Turkey and The Netherlands, where the cast could sing for audiences of more than 40.000 persons. A video on YouTube of a young student singing a Kurdish song was viewed more than 50.000 times (link)

"In fact it was easier to get programs financed for older people years ago than programs for a dynamic diversity of younger and older singers now,” observes Conny Groot. "Being innovative and having principles such as fighting stereotypes and moving away from segregation of age groups in the society is not always rewarding quickly." It is always an enormous effort to bring together the amounts of money required to involve professional artists (for training, workshops and master classes), professional staff from the music academy (for the arranging of songs and directing the orchestra of music students) and for professional promotion. Even if a lot of interns and volunteers is helping out at events money is needed for coordination, for quality and for publicity.

Until now fundraising was successful, and Conny Groot pointed out that the huge and time consuming effort is integrated as an imminent necessity into the daily work to be done. This work is strongly related to building trusted relationships, also on a personal level. A condition is that one cannot only promote intercultural and intergenerational cooperation, but also has to live this and show this in a transparent way to funds and sponsors. Optimal transparency is required by most funds. At the moment Music Generations is based on structural finances for the organisation (30 percent of the costs) from a fund specialising in cultural participation and additional funding is agreed to by in the mean time the city of Rotterdam and 7 private funds, a number which has to climb to 9 funds or more. Low overhead costs can be realised with the help of interns and volunteers.

All the hard work however is worth the effort when finally singers can perform on stage and audiences can enjoy the show as was the case in Casablanca the evening before. 

Round up and goodbye

The program was ended by a final discussion on next steps and detailing of the working program according to decisions taken, which will be done by Lidia.

Between now and the end of the Yes You Can program July 2015 there is a lot of work to do and many visits are to make.

Intention is to have results of the survey in August online. Work on the inventory has to start. Developing insight in European programs has to start up.

The French partner will take responsibility for producing a glossary.

The further planning is the following.

Meeting in Turkey planned at 4 and 5 September 2014

Meeting in France November or December 2014

Meeting in Slovakia in March 2015

Meeting in Poland in May 2015 (Connected to a international convention Fundraising)

Dissemination of results at the German Seniors Days 2-4 July 2014 (Dutch, German and Polish partner) 

Final Meeting in Malta in July 2015

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