EUConsult Information Service
Henk de Graaf, ALPHA FUNDRAISING CONSULTANCY
Main business areas: Fundraising and Legacy Fundraising
Date business started: 2005
Number of consultancy staff: 2
Countries of operation: Netherlands
What range of clients do you serve?
Our main focus is serving charity clients and hospitals
How has your business evolved since it was started?
The business has developed a lot faster that I expected when I started at the end of 2005. After many years working in the voluntary sector, it is very interesting to be able to sit on other side of the table and develop my consultancy activities. The business has gone so well that I have been able to employ my first member of staff.
Where will your consultancy be in a few years time?
This is a difficult question. Just one year ago I didnít expect to be in a position to hire personnel. I would hope that the consultancy will experience stable growth over the next few years.
Which opportunities and threats do you see for your work in the sector and for the development of NPOs?
The sector is developing fast in the Netherlands, so there are some good opportunities for consultancies. A lot of charities are now looking at legacy fundraising which is one of our specialities. There is also a lot of work coming from Dutch NPOs that are not used to doing fundraising, such as hospitals. In fact, all charities in the Netherlands are investing more money in fundraising now now, as the economy is improving. Alpha Fundraising has been lucky, because the timing has been right in starting up the business and there are lots of opportunities for us to develop.
Why did you join EUConsult?
I wanted to broaden my knowledge about fundraising in the rest of Europe and to share knowledge with organisations and people who do the same work, but are not direct competitors. It is easier to discuss some issues with consultants from other countries and interesting to be able to hear different points of view.
Which aspects of membership do you particularly value?
I really enjoyed the EUConsult Summer Conference in Budapest last year and found it very useful. I am now looking forward to catching up with colleagues at the conference in Dublin in June. The conferences are a great opportunity for exchange and learning.
Where and what did you study?
I studied chemistry at the University of Utrecht.
How did you first get involved in NPO consultancy?
While I was studying I became a volunteer for a nature organisation. At the beginning state subsidies were available, but when these were stopped we were forced to look for other funding opportunities. This was my first experience of fundraising. I was then asked by other organisations to do some fundraising on volunteer basis. After I finished my studies it wasnít easy to get a job as a chemist, so I applied for job with small nature organisation. This was the beginning of my career in the not-for-profit sector. A while ago I bumped into a colleague who I knew in my first job. When I told her that I had started my own consultancy business, she said that she had always expected that it would happen one day. I guess that working in consultancy had always been in back of my head, but it was a question of waiting for the right opportunity. And I wanted to work for one of the biggest charities in the Netherlands first. With the right experience in the sector and good networks, I felt confident that I could make my consultancy a success.
What interests you most about staying in the field?
The causes that organisations have at their hearts provide a strong motivating factor for me. All non-profit organisations are trying to make the world a bit better. I really appreciate having the opportunity to work with people in the sector and to support many worthwhile causes. The non-profit world is the place where I belong.
What do you do to relax and forget your consultancy work?
In the past year it has been difficult to relax, as I have been building the business. However, things should get a bit easier now that I have a new colleague. So I hope to be able to spend some more time doing some bird watching, which is very relaxing.