Amsterdam friends Monique van Hoogstraten and Ineke van Tol’s €190 campaign has raised more than half a million euros. The two launched the citizens’ initiative Wees Warmhart in November, encouraging Amsterdammers to donate their energy rebate to the less fortunate in the city. And with success: more than 3,000 donors gave more than 500,000 euros.
“We are totally overwhelmed by the success of our campaign”, say the promoters. All expectations have been exceeded. Their first milestone in November was 30,000 euros. That amount was obtained quite easily and quickly. Ineke: “It was encouraging. Even though we had nothing to lose, it was great that people listened to our action.”
The two friends gradually became more fanatical and undertook to publicize the initiative. Ineke: “I got up with it and went to bed with it.” Monique calls the success of their citizens’ initiative a ‘classic snowball’: “As soon as the ball started rolling, it just got bigger.” The well-known Amsterdammers who shared the initiative in their network played a big role in this success. Mayor Femke Halsema, for example, drew attention to the initiative via Instagram.
Although they describe themselves as ‘real amateurs’ in this field, they mention a few points that explain their success. Together with graphic designer Jan Paul de Vries, the three formed a close-knit team. “We can work very well together and that is very important.” As an example, Monique mentions Black Friday, which they used for a quick action. Such campaigns and media attention had great results, says Monique: “At that time, you really saw a peak in donations.”
Citizens’ initiative Be Warm-hearted
The Amsterdam friends started with the slogan ‘We’re here to help each other, right? November last year with the citizens’ initiative Wees Warmhart. The online platform offered Amsterdam residents the opportunity to donate the energy discount obtained in November and December to the less fortunate in the city.
Participating Amsterdam institutions were Amsterdam Food Bank, Amsterdam Special Need Fund and Poverty Fund. After a few weeks, the initiative turned out to be one great success and the counter was already at 90,000 euros. The promoters were ‘overwhelmed’ by the success and determined to continue.
Marita Tolman, director of the participating agency Fonds Bijzondere Noden Amsterdam, is happy and grateful for the amount collected. She is impressed by the initiators. “They made it a kind of sport to get a good end result and it worked amazingly well.”
With a positive result also for the Foundation for Special Needs Amsterdam. As a target amount, she had hoped to double last year’s donations, around 35,000 euros. “We have come a long way. We received almost 244,000 euros. Unbelievable!”
According to Marita, the Be Warmhearted initiative has given many Amsterdammers something important: “The action shows that there are many Amsterdammers who are having a hard time and are in trouble every day.” It is through this action that this inequality has now been made visible in a positive way.’
Although it is still possible to donate on the website, Ineke and Monique stop actively promoting the campaign. “The trigger was the energy rebate, the momentum of which was in November and December.” Nevertheless, some amounts of money have trickled in over the past few days.
But sitting still, the two Amsterdam friends do anything but. They are already working on a ‘next level’. “In honor of the city’s 750th anniversary, we would like to set something up again. This time not by donating money, but in a different way in connecting poor and rich people.”
Ineke and Monique look back with great pride and agree on one thing: “We can recommend it to everyone: help your neighbor, because in the end it will also help you.”
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