The donations made by the Dutch people to MSF increased strongly in 2013. We received a record amount of €49.6 million from private donors, the business community and foundations and via the Tour for Life sponsored cycling event.

We wish to offer our heartfelt thanks to all those who supported us in 2013. Your support is vital to us in order to be able to provide emergency medical aid independently, quickly and effectively where it is needed most.

Our fundraising activities in 2013

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The income from our fundraising activities in the Netherlands increased in 2013 by 9.6 per cent in comparison to 2012. This was a much stronger increase than we had anticipated in our multi-year plan for 2011-2014 and more than 7 per cent more than we had expected to receive in 2013.

This high amount was primarily thanks to extra donations made by our regular donors and the large number of one-off donations towards our aid in the Philippines at the end of the year. As always, not only did our donors support our emergency aid projects, they also assisted us with our longer term projects in countries such as South Sudan and Syria. The large numbers of people who left us an inheritance or legacy were, as always, a welcome addition to our income. In fact, almost a quarter of our income (22 per cent in 2013) comes from legacies.

The basis of our fundraising activities remains the direct contact with potential donors. In 2013, door-to-door campaigns were the most important channel for recruiting new donors. We cooperate with agencies specialised in such campaigns for this recruitment. Our staff organised a number of special meetings for our door-to-door campaigners at our head office in Amsterdam to motivate them and bring them up to date. This helps us ensure that our campaigners are aware of the latest developments in our projects. In order to limit potential public resentment against this method of fundraising as much as possible, we make clear agreements with the campaign organizers on the behaviour of the fundraisers and the days and times they may operate.

This year, we ceased our telephone fundraising activities. We did have a telephone campaign to thank our current donors for their support and to ask them if they would consider increasing their donations. The donors who agreed to this increased their donations by an average of € 40.

In addition to the donations made by private individuals, the proceeds from funds, foundations and legacies are also of growing importance for us. In order to expand or in any case maintain these sources of funding, we have recruited a number of relationship managers to our fundraising department.

Recruitment of and contact with donors

Our donors

  2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Number of donors that made at least
one donation during the year 
463,789 451,007 460,491 460,317 464,085
Donor activity          
New donors 51,995 40,847 42,892 56,304 64,675
Active cancellations 2,124 4,788 2,375 3,277 4,748
No donations made this year 47,487 46,717 47,788 49,507 40,421
Direct debit donors 304,118 304,170 313,596 298,565 293,212

A lot of people supported our work in 2013, even more than in the preceding years. The number of donors and donations increased towards the end of the year, mainly due to the work we did in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan and the emergency medical aid we provided in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria, and the media attention these projects received.

We continue to be impressed by the loyalty of our regular donors, of which more than 300,000 supported us in 2013 with direct debit donations. To demonstrate our appreciation to these regular donors and maintain their commitment, we keep them up to date on our activities via our donor magazine Hulppost, our website and electronic newsletters.

To strengthen the relationship with new MSF donors, we have developed a welcome period during which we provide them with extra information on the work that we do and what their donations are spent on.
We receive positive comments and questions on a daily basis, but there are complaints too. We keep careful records of the complaints and questions we receive and always reply within 5 working days. In 2013, we received 1,395 complaints, an increase of 37 per cent. This increase was related to the increased intensity of the door-to-door campaigns. Most of the complaints concerned incorrect debits. We always cancel these incorrect debits and refund any erroneous bank transfers as soon as possible. We also investigate the causes of these errors so that both we and the agencies with which we work can learn from any mistakes.

The costs of our fundraising activities

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The total costs of our fundraising activities in 2013 amounted to 15.6 per cent, the same percentage as in 2012. This is well within the CBF standard of 25 per cent. The average percentage for the last 3 years was 15.5 per cent. In 2013, we spent €8.1 million to collect total donations of €49.6 million.

In 2013, the expenditure for ‘other fundraising costs’ increased due to unavoidable one-off expenditures and investments associated with the introduction of the IBAN account number. We completed the transition to SEPA in 2013.

Tour for Life
In 2013, the anniversary edition of the Tour for Life cycling event for MSF took place. 62 teams and a total of 538 cyclists participated in the eight-day event starting in the Italian Alps and terminating in Valkenburg in the Dutch province of Limburg. The teams achieved fantastic results by collecting an average of €20,497 in donations per team. Teams have to raise a minimum of €15,000 in order to participate. MSF received a total of €1,153,381 for the event. The net costs of organising the event amounted to €272,526.

In 2012, Tour for Life raised €1.5 million. The decrease in 2013 was due to the smaller amount of teams that participated. Tour for Life was organised by Emolife Events & Consultancy BV as part of a combined commission from the Emo Foundation and MSF. In addition to the 538 cyclists, no less than 128 support staff and 160 other volunteers also helped to make Tour for Life 2013 possible.

Dutch Postcode Lottery

The Dutch Postcode Lottery has been an important source of financial support to MSF since 1993. In 2013, MSF again received the wonderful sum of €13.5 million.

In 2013, Bill Clinton handed over a cheque for an incredible €6.8 million to our General Director, Arjan Hehenkamp. This money was provided by the Dutch Postcode Lottery’s ‘Dream Fund’ for our battle against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. See also Medical achievements.

Plans for 2014

The revenues from direct debits, notarial deeds and legacies provided by our regular donors remain the foundation of our income. At the very least, we wish to maintain the level of these donations and if possible increase the loyalty of our donors. Alongside the tried and tested channels such as door-to-door and face-to-face campaigns, in 2014 we will also develop new initiatives to recruit and commit new donors. With our new strategy, whereby fundraising and communications are a more integrated whole, we want to bring our work even closer to the Dutch public and offer them easier and more attractive ways to support us.