ABN AMRO MeesPierson is using crowdfunding to tap into new sources of income for religious institutions in the Netherlands. The private banking division of ABN AMRO guides them through the crowdfunding process and provides an online platform where investors and churches can come together. ABN AMRO MeesPierson is the first bank in the Netherlands to develop a crowdfunding initiative for religious institutions. The Domkerk Cathedral in Utrecht will be the first to benefit.
Crowdfunding is an alternative method of financing which involves direct contact between investors and the businesses they finance. Churches and other religious institutions can make good use of the income from crowdfunding: two-thirds of Protestant communities in the Netherlands posted deficits in their 2012 annual accounts, for example. Reduced income and the ending of government subsidies have meant that renovations or necessary purchases have had to be deferred or even abandoned.
Innovative income sources
ABN AMRO MeesPierson sits down with religious institutions to see whether crowdfunding could be used in their case, by actively going in search of new income sources. The subsidiary SEEDS – the first crowdfunding initiative in the world to be set up by a bank – facilitates the online platform and oversees the process. Hein van der Loo, Director of Institutions & Charities at ABN AMRO MeesPierson: "ABN AMRO MeesPierson is aiming to use crowdfunding as a means of tapping into new and innovative sources of income for religious institutions. We are happy to support and advise administrators. This initiative is an excellent example of that."
Domkerk Cathedral Utrecht
The imminent restoration of the vaulted arches in Domkerk Cathedral in Utrecht is being financed entirely through crowdfunding. The ribbed arches are part of the ‘frame’ of the church; they are crucial for its future and renovation is therefore important. In return for their financial contribution, investors will literally receive a piece of the church, in the form of a piece of stone from one of the ribs. The project will be launched on the website www.draagdedom.nl in the first quarter of 2014. As soon as the finance has been raised, renovation will begin.
Return on investment
Peter de Lange, chairman of the Dutch Board of Church Commissioners (VKB), explains how it works: "Churches are seeing their income decline, so we are looking to new, modern initiatives to increase our financial resources. Crowdfunding fits in perfectly with that. It’s not just about raising money; it’s also a way of involving people in our projects. By way of thanks, the Protestant communities give something back to the people who have invested money in them."
Commissioners get involved
The kick-off for the crowdfunding initiative was held in Amsterdam on Thursday, 14 November 2013. Some 200 Church Commissioners from the VKB were brought up to date on the possibilities that crowdfunding could offer their communities. During the gathering, which was held at the head office of ABN AMRO MeesPierson, the Commissioners learned all about crowdfunding, so that they could then get actively involved themselves.
About ABN AMRO MeesPierson Institutions & Charities
Institutions & Charities is part of ABN AMRO MeesPierson, the private banking division of ABN AMRO. It focuses on larger civil-society organisations, with the three main groups targeted being fundraising organisations, charitable trusts and religious institutions. Institutions & Charities provides a range of facilities for religious institutions, including payment, investment and asset management services.