How to organise a charity fundraiser

As cliché as it may be, preparation is half the battle when it comes to fundraisers. You will have to pick a charity, figure out what to do with taxes, and determine whether the charity is a good fit for you and your business. Raising money for charity is a labour of love: campaigning, recruiting new members and keeping donors informed of how your fundraiser is faring is hard work. Find out how to choose a charity, what permits you need, and how to be sure a charity is trustworthy.

It is a great feeling to support a charity and help other people, and raising money for charity will also help you showcase your social commitment as a business. But how do you go about organising a fundraiser?

Choose a charity

There are lots of different charities to choose from, but your first step could be to choose between a nationwide (or international!) charity like Unicef or a regional charity like a local animal shelter. Make sure the charity matches your business, your values, and your image. It should be easy for people to understand why you are supporting a charity. If you have a business in the healthcare sector, people will understand immediately why you are organising an event for ALS, Beat Batten, or the Dutch MS Society. If you are a self-employed teacher, charities like Edukans, Unicef, or Save the Children may make more sense.

If you and your brand are closely intertwined, your business should mesh with your values. This is called personal branding and is reflected in your operations and activities in many different ways, including what charity you choose to support.

Of course, you can also decide to support a charity that has nothing to do with your business but is close to you personally. If your mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, it makes sense that you want to raise money for the Dutch Cancer Society. 

Check that the charity is trustworthy

After landing on a charity, check that it can be trusted. Credible charities are recognised by CBF, the Dutch charity Watchdog, and have a quality mark. CBF verifies that charities meet its strict quality standards, such as prudent spending, transparent finances and record-keeping, and treating donors with respect. More and more donors want assurance that charities actually have an impact. CBF looks at what charities intend to achieve and whether their approach is effective. You can trust that CBF-recognised charities actually contribute to a better world.

Over the past five years, the number of recognised charities has increased from 458 in 2016 to 628 by 2020. CBF expects the tally to reach 655 by 31 December 2021. Not every charity that applies for the quality mark receives it, with approximately 10% of applicants being rejected.

Apply for permits

You may need a permit to raise money or collect items for charity. This permit should be issued by the municipality in which you intend to organise your fundraiser. You will always need a permit if your chosen charity is not a CBF member and if your fundraiser is not on CBF’s fundraiser calendar.

Every municipality has its own General Municipal Bylaw (Algemene Plaatselijke Verordening, APV), which states whether you will need a permit. The fee for issuing a permit differs from one municipality to the next. Fundraiser permits are free in the municipality of Zandvoort, for example, but municipalities like Amsterdam and Zutphen charge a permit fee that can cost anywhere between €25 and €60. Different municipalities also attach different conditions to fundraiser permits, such as:

  • All proceeds must go to the intended charity.
  • Fundraisers have to be organised by a business, vereniging (association), or stichting (foundation).
  • The fundraising assistant has to be over 14 years of age.
  • You have to submit a report on the proceeds of the fundraiser.

Lotte Drieman of Stichting Opkikker (in Dutch) has noticed that you will not need a permit for most fundraisers. If you set up a campaign through a crowdfunding platform or collect money or items in your club house or student union HQ, for example, you do not need a permit. If you do need a permit for your fundraiser, Lotte has some good advice: "Reach out to the charity and ask them to apply for the permit: they will often know the right people."

Come up with an event or challenge

Fundraisers do not have to be large-scale events. You could simply put a jar on the counter or open a separate bank account to separate the cash flows of your business and the fundraiser.

Special, particularly eye-catching ideas are more likely to bring in more money. The bigger the better! Entrepreneur Babiche Israel organises KerstKleedjeAan (in Dutch), a pop-up boutique with clothing and accessories for Culemborg locals who do not have much to spend. "Everyone should be able to dress up for Christmas. People deserve to look their best. We have a tailor on site to alter the clothes from the boutique for free." Sustainability also has an important part to play in Israel’s campaign. "We connect entrepreneurs with people less fortunate by collecting items that businesses would usually throw away or send back to headquarters." All proceeds will go to a local charity.

Five other ideas to get you started:

Online shops

If you have an online shop or offer your services online, you can donate a fixed amount or fixed percentage of each order to charity. Alternatively, you can ask customers to pay €1 more as a donation to charity.


Join forces with other entrepreneurs near you. Agree on a date for the fundraiser together and raise awareness with banners or posters. Encourage your fellow entrepreneurs to donate a share of their profits or collect money themselves and hand it over to you at the end of the day.

Non-monetary donations

Most charities have stopped taking physical donations but are still looking for valuable expertise. Perhaps you could donate your know-how instead? If you have an IT company, for instance, you could create a website or tool for free. If you have an accounting firm, you could loan out an accountant for one day per week or month. Law firms could do pro bono legal work.

Crazy and funny

Crazy events that make people laugh always do well. They are eye-catching and get people to loosen their purse strings. Set a fundraising goal and promise to get a small tattoo, put on a wig, or run a marathon in fancy dress if you reach the goal.

Christmas dinner

When the holidays draw near, why not organise a Christmas dinner for lonely elderly people or other less fortunate people who need a helping hand. Do keep an eye on the latest coronavirus restrictions If you cannot organise a dinner for lots of people at once, go door to door and deliver Christmas cheer (and delicious food!). Ask customers to donate ingredients and give people a small Christmas present as icing on the cake.

Promote the fundraiser

People often need convincing before they donate money. Regardless of the size of the donation, people tend to put a lot of thought into what charities they want to support. They decide based on their personal history, goals that resonate with them, or influencers who promote a product.

"It is a generally a good idea to let the charity know that you are organising a fundraiser. Lots of charities have a special fundraiser page on their website for people to donate money", Drieman explains. The money is transferred straight to the charity, taking work off your hands. "Besides, almost every charity will have promotional material that you can use."

If you choose not to use your chosen charity’s fundraiser page, try reaching out to your network by placing a banner on your website. Put it in an eye-catching place and link it to a page with a personal story, photos, videos, and regular updates. At the end of your campaign, thank everyone who donated and tell them what you did with the proceeds.

Make it easy for people to donate money or items. Register your campaign with a crowfunding platform, so that visitors can pay quickly and easily via iDEAL. There are several websites that let you create campaigns for any charity of your choosing like (in Dutch), (in Dutch), or (in Dutch).

To expand your reach, you could consider reaching out to regional and national media. The more remarkable your campaign, the more media interest you will get. Make sure to advertise your campaign on multiple social media channels and reach out to your friends, family, and neighbours. They could be your very first donors! Ask shopkeepers for help, hang up posters and hand out flyers, or set up a donation jar at the till. Make it easy for customers to donate to charity while they are finalising their online purchase.

Prevent your fundraiser from coming across as a marketing stunt. Campaigns that focus too much on your own business can be a turn-off. The amount or percentage that you donate should be proportional to what you earn from your campaign. You can cover expenses, but make sure you do not make a profit. You can also choose to make your own donation on top of the money raised or match a certain percentage yourself.

Take care of admin

The campaign is done and dusted. You have raised a pretty penny and are ready to present the proceeds to your chosen charity. If you got a lot of cash donations, keep the money in a safe deposit box until you take it to the bank. Berno Sauer, a tax advisor and financial planner at Flynth, recommends using a separate ledger number for all donations.

Deal with the tax authorities

Donations to charity can be tax deductible under certain conditions. This only applies if you paid for the donation yourself. Sauer explains: "The donation has to be a tax burden on the taxpayer." That means you, the entrepreneur. If you choose to match the amount raised by your campaign, you can deduct your share. The tax rules for business donations to charity vary by legal form and depend on whether you are subject to income tax or corporate tax. 

Donating money as an eenmanszaak or vof

If you have an eenmanszaak or vof, you can donate the money as a private person and possibly deduct the donation in your income tax return. How much you can deduct depends on whether you make a recurring or a one-off donation. Donating money to a fundraising campaign is a one-off donation, called an ordinary gift (Belastingdienst, in Dutch) by the tax authorities.

Ordinary gifts are tax-deductible if the organisation receiving the gift is ANBI-certified or an SBBI (Belastingdiesnt, in Dutch). If the charity has ANBI status (Belastingdienst, in Dutch), donating money may have tax benefits (Belastingdienst, in Dutch). The following conditions also apply:

  • You must be able to prove that you made the donation, for example with a bank statement or receipt. You do not have to include this proof in your income tax return, but you must be able to show it during a tax audit.
  • Your donation has to exceed the threshold amount: 1% of your threshold income*. This threshold amount must be at least €60. Anything over the threshold amount is tax-deductible.
  • Your donation has to remain below the maximum amount: 10% of your threshold income*.

* Your threshold income is the total of your income and deductions in Boxes 1, 2 and 3 (not including personal deductions). Suppose your threshold income is €50,000. This would make the threshold amount €500 and the maximum deductible amount €5000.

You deduct the gift in your income tax return for the year in which you made the gift, so if you make a charitable donation in December, you should it include in your tax returns for 2021. If you do not transfer the money until after the turn of the year, it should be included in your 2022 tax returns.

If your gift serves a business interest, you can also deduct it from your revenue. Gifts serve a business interest if they make a positive, useful contribution to your business. Sauer admits this is somewhat subjective, "but the tax authorities are not allowed to test your policies as an entrepreneur. In the worst case, you could get into a discussion about a donation with the tax authorities, for example, if your daughter is seriously ill and you make a donation to a stichting (foundation) dedicated to combating her illness. If you have any doubts, you can always ask your accountant or tax consultant for advice, even if you are unsure whether it is best to deduct a gift for business or personal purposes."

Donating money as a bv (PLC) or nv (LLC)

If you pay corporate tax, for example as a bv or nv, you can donate the proceeds from your fundraising campaign on behalf of your company. In this case, there is no threshold.

The law distinguishes between gifts that do and do not serve a business interest. The money you donate after a fundraiser is considered a non-business gift. The following rules apply to these gifts:

  • You must be able to prove in writing that you made the gift.
  • There is no threshold amount for deducting the gift.
  • You may deduct up to 50% of your profits in donations, with a maximum of €100,000.

Gift tax

ANBI, SBBI or SBBI support foundation charities are exempt from gift tax.

To find out more about social enterprises, visit our page on: Social enterprises: achieving a social mission with commercial strategies.