This year Nordea-fonden, a Danish philanthropic foundation, decided to earmark 6.7 million euro to support activities along the Danish coastline. Here’s a brief description of why and how we went about moving our office into a tent on the beach.

Land of coastline and associations

Denmark is a small country of only 5.6 million inhabitants who love spending leisure time on their 8,000 km coastline. In fact, 3 out of 4 Danes visit the coast at least once a year, and most would like to spend even more of their leisure time there, according to research recently conducted by Copenhagen University.

Another distinct feature of Denmark is our huge number of associations (over 100,000!) set up and driven by enthusiastic volunteers. Most associations are small and focused on organising activities in local neighbourhoods where they play a vital role in strengthening communities. Most of them also have aims and activities which fall within the strategic focus of the Nordea-fonden. That is supporting good living within the focus areas of health and nutrition, sports, nature and culture.

Counselling at the coast

Having decided to dedicate a pool of 6.7 million euro for coastal activities, we swiftly needed to get the message across to our target audience, a wide variety of potential applicants voluntarily organised in thousands of associations. From anglers, winter bathers and kayakers to scouts, choirs, divers, horse riders and everything in between. You name it!  Our challenge was how to reach such a broad spectrum of associations, most of whom were unfamiliar with what foundations do, as well as how to apply for funding.

So in order to effectively reach the audience, we decided to go on tour and invite them to visit us at six different coastal stops, in a tent, our mobile office on the beach.

Welcome to our tent!

Creating awareness of the project with advertising, social media, local press and direct mail, we invited potential applicants to register for the six events as well as submit their proposal for a coastal activity. During the first two weeks of the campaign we had over 260 proposals, and we have given feedback and advice to them all.

Moving our office to a beach, near the local associations and inviting them into our big heated tent for a chat with an advisor, while serving warm soup and having a singalong has proven to be a very valuable and helpful way to dialogue with the hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers. And it has also proven to be an excellent way of engaging local associations through local media.

The bottom line is that more associations have become familiar with our foundation and how to approach us with their ideas. We hope that this campaign will be a catalyser for meeting the Danish demand for leisure activities at the coast.

 These days the Nordea-fonden, like many other foundations, is making an effort to improve our transparency and accessibility, mostly online, which, of course, is a necessary development.  However, moving our office and advice closer to our target audience, shows that face-to-face, personal dialogue and counselling still can make a great difference in the way we go about our philanthropic work.