The pandemic has brought the importance of human contact into sharp relief, with millions of people mobilising worldwide to help those living in isolation. For Oranje Fonds, the largest social cohesion organisation in the Netherlands, this has been its key mission from the start.
Formed in 2002 as a wedding present from the Dutch people to King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, Oranje Fonds’ objective is a world where nobody is excluded and everyone can participate in society.
Every year, it spends over €30 million to further this aim by building social inclusion programmes and campaigns for small-scale, community-led projects in the Netherlands and the Dutch islands of the Caribbean, and providing opportunities for them to learn from each other. Oranje Fonds offers both financial and non-financial support that includes training, awareness building, and volunteer mobilisation on a massive scale, assisted by one of the most sophisticated digital marketing platforms out there.
The Buddies Wanted programme is a core part of Oranje Fond’s outreach services, supporting projects across the nation that pair up those needing help in a specific area of their life with a buddy.
Bringing People Together
This Nonprofit Trailblazer delivers work across three key pillars of activity: local communities, equal opportunities, and caring for those in need.
At the community level, this includes Oranje Fonds’ annual Neighbours Day in September, which sees people all over the Netherlands come together to help others in their neighbourhoods. Every March, the nonprofit’s Netherlands Does programme encourages people to get together with friends or family and volunteer for a day, supporting those in need and helping good causes.
Its equal opportunities programmes seek to ensure that no one is held back by factors such as gender, sexual orientation, health, and finances. This includes the More Opportunities for Young People programme, which provides support, including funding and training, to volunteer projects helping older teens and young adults achieve basic qualifications, find jobs, and participate in society.
Meanwhile, the Buddies Wanted programme is a core part of the organisation’s outreach services, supporting projects across the nation that pair up those needing help in a specific area of their life with a buddy. It could be anything from help with learning a new skill to companionship for someone with health issues or a disability.
A popular movement, there are thousands of locally organised buddy projects scattered around the Netherlands that support everyone from the disabled to children, families, and the elderly, and 1,900 of these are part of the Oranje Fonds platform. More than simply providing support, these projects build relationships. Project organisers take great care when matching people up so that both enjoy the time they spend together, and in some cases even form friendships.
A Critical Supporting Role
Most of the projects are delivered by social changemakers who work on a small scale with limited resources. Oranje Fonds is passionate about supporting their work. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it launched an emergency fund to help them adapt to the circumstances. More recently, the nonprofit has created a fund for social initiatives tackling problems that have been caused or exacerbated by the pandemic.
Unsurprisingly, as social problems have deepened during the pandemic, demand for buddies has grown. In fact, it would currently take at least 40,000 volunteers to provide buddies to everyone who needs one.
Using its national reach and network, Oranje Fonds plays a key role in helping projects promote their volunteering opportunities and find the right people to fill them. The organisation offers its website as a platform where projects can advertise their requirements and willing volunteers can search for relevant opportunities.
Oranje Fonds offers both financial and non-financial support that includes training, awareness building, and volunteer mobilisation on a massive scale, assisted by one of the most sophisticated digital marketing platforms out there.
Building Better Relationships Through Insight
With demand rising, Oranje Fonds adopted Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud in 2017 to help expand its offerings. This platform provides valuable insights on who volunteers and what they’re looking to gain from the experience, as well as the most popular buddy projects and activities. Oranje Fonds is using this insight to create even more compelling campaigns and communications that are building engagement and increasing sign-ups, helping organisations reach greater numbers of suitable volunteers.
Oranje Fonds has also developed the front end of its website to provide more information on the available volunteer opportunities. This includes project type, location, and the preferred activity of the person seeking a buddy, so volunteers can make better decisions about which opportunities to pursue.
Registering online is just the first step to becoming a buddy. Once someone has signed up, keeping their enthusiasm high is key. After all, the perfect buddy match doesn’t always come up straightaway. Oranje Fonds keeps volunteers engaged with a communications journey that starts at sign-up with a thank you message, followed by weekly emails highlighting new volunteering opportunities relevant to their preferences.
High-profile awareness campaigns, shaped by the insight Oranje Fonds has into volunteers’ interests, bring people to its website. This promotional activity runs throughout the year, with a successful annual volunteer recruitment campaign and compelling videos of buddy couples showing the real connection and warmth between them.
Over the last two years, this Trailblazer has brought together more buddies than ever before. In 2019, around 2,600 people registered via its website, doubling to more than 5,000 in 2020. By July 2021, the nonprofit had already exceeded this record, and those numbers continue to climb.
With tens of thousands of people still in need, and backed by the insight and volunteer engagement capabilities Marketing Cloud provides, Oranje Fonds will continue doing everything it can to expand its reach and bring an end to social exclusion.
Download the Trailblazer Celebration eBook to learn more about how Oranje Fonds is using Salesforce to engage their community and drive action.
About the Author
Senior Product Marketing Manager at Salesforce.org