KiKa’s story: how a small charity gained success through donor engagement

Exhibited by
Frits Hirschstein
Added
May 03, 2018
Medium of Communication
Events, peer-to-peer
Target Audience
All
Type of Charity
Medical
Country of Origin
The Netherlands
Date of first appearance
2006

SOFII’s view

Centring their fundraising strategy on enabling donors to organise their own activities, small Dutch charity KiKa have become the game changers in event fundraising across the Netherlands. With a vision of remaining small but raising a lot of money, KiKa prove that if you invest in your donors' ambitions and ideas, and make it easy for them to bring these to life, you can achieve results well beyond your means.

Creator / originator

Frits Hirschstein and KiKa (Children Cancer-free)

Background

KiKa (Children Cancer-free) was founded in 2002 to raise money to combat cancer in children and very quickly decided on a fundraising strategy of garnering the support of as many private donors as possible. In 2006, executive director Frits Hirtschstein was contacted by some friends of his from the advertising world who wanted to make a TV advertisement — funded by private supporters — with the simple message: become a donor by organising and/or taking part in activities created to support KiKa. The ambition was for KiKa to remain a small charity but one that could grow steadily whilst raising a lot of money. In 2005, only 300 activities had been organised to support KiKa. That was about to change.

Summary / objectives

KiKa have one goal and one goal only: to increase the cure rate to 95 per cent for children living with cancer. A clear and simple message, which is repeated everywhere, reinforcing the ambition with donors. In the wake of the TV advertisement, KiKa invited donors to take their own initiative in organising events for KiKa such as baking cakes and doughnuts, sponsored football matches, bike rides, marathons, etc. KiKa would provide the means to advertise events and help with logistical support (volunteers, online promotion, etc), but the impetus would come from those donors passionate enough about the cause to try to organise their own activities. The belief was that this independence for volunteers and donors would provide more scope to raise money.

Special characteristics

By ensuring that donors always have quick access to KiKa staff (all responses to requests for advice or support were answered within eight hours and no more), the organisation can get activities rolling quickly and efficiently and provide an excellent donor experience. As Frits Hirschstein told friend of SOFII Reinier Spruit:

‘We stay very close to the people, so that’s why people know our organisation very well. A few years back we introduced the slogan “take action”, which was picked up very practically. [...] The role of KiKa is to facilitate these actions where necessary. To facilitate all actions we have four people in the office, who respond to incoming mail. It is essential that we always stop by the event to thank the organisers. This can be done by a paid employee or a volunteer. Organisers are sincerely appreciated, so you win ambassadors for your organisation. Sometimes there is an action we’re not really happy with. Some time ago they were tattooing for KiKa... if we knew that in advance... But we choose not to be aware of everything in advance, which is not possible anyway with 10 actions per day.’

And as he said to Reinier in a more recent conversation: 

‘Personal contact is what’s key, that’s the investment.’

Results

In 2005 only 300 activities were organised on KiKa's behalf. Nowadays, the number is closer to 5,000, with an average of €1,500 raised per activity. That's nearly €9 million per year. As Reinier notes, ‘the net income for KiKa grew from 9.2 million euros in 2009 to 19.8 million euros in 2016.’

In the Dutch market KiKa has become the standard-bearer for events fundraising. Many others also do this type of fundraising, but not on the same scale as KiKa.

Other relevant information

The final word should go to Frits, courtesy again of Reinier Spruit:

‘My success formula: always think creatively and look for distinctive concepts. Clear and simple communication. Every day you need to think about the distinctiveness of your brand. Without innovations, growth and success are not possible.’
A young volunteer fundraiser sells cake at a campsite
Volunteer fundraisers at a fair
Recycling plastic bottles to raise money for Kika
This graph shows some of the huge success Kika has had
Frits Hirschstein, Kika's founder and executive director