DOEN: Funding pioneers

News overview

With a contribution from the Postcode Loterij and VriendenLoterij, the DOEN Foundation supports green, socially inclusive and creative pioneers with grants, loans and investment capital in the risky first phase. You can read exactly why and how do we do this in this article.

The Lotteries' fund

The DOEN Foundation was set up by the Nationale Postcode Loterij in 1991 to support small, innovative projects that bring a green, socially inclusive and creative world closer - projects that are still too small to qualify for lottery support.

Every year, thanks to the lottery players, DOEN receives a contribution from the Postcode Loterij and the VriendenLoterij with which we support more than 250 green, socially inclusive and creative pioneers and 650 community projects.

Funding from the start

DOEN finances plans and specific projects in the Netherlands and abroad in their very early stages: a phase in which other funders are not interested. They think the pioneers' plans are too small-scale, wild and ambitious. In short, they are too big a risk. DOEN tracks down pioneers who have the potential to accelerate transition (or ensures that they find us) gives them a financial boost and a platform where possible, and connects them with others so that they can have more impact together.

DOEN's role is to support these pioneers in the very early stages, to give projects a flying start and thus drive innovation and social change. After this initial phase, the pioneers can continue their projects independently, or with the help of other funders, and increase their impact. They may also progress to receiving further support from one of the two lotteries. Here they are supported on a one-off basis or they get institutional, long-term, trust-based support.

Financial instruments

DOEN's work is based on a philosophy of subsidise where necessary, participate where possible. Unique, surprising, small-scale projects with social impact that lack the financial resources to achieve their aims can apply to DOEN for financial support. In this, we make a distinction between project grants, programme grants and grants that are subject to conditions. We also provide loans to projects that are not yet eligible for bank funding. DOEN redeploys the repayments and interest it receives to support pioneers. Through its own social investment company, DOEN Participaties BV, DOEN also participates in innovative, socially inclusive and/or sustainable companies and funds that can make a major social impact.

Transition funder

DOEN strives for a world based on a circular economy, where everyone counts, where the commons comes first, and where there is room for radical imagination. That is our dot on the horizon. To accelerate these transitions, DOEN focuses on supporting the innovative niches: the pioneers. A transition is not a linear process. It is erratic and unpredictable. That's why DOEN offers the flexibility and customisation that fit experimental pioneers. DOEN understands if plans go differently. Change takes time and DOEN is a patient funder that does not want to change focus areas too quickly. At the same time, we always ask ourselves whether there is still a role for us to play within a transition. When the government, the market or other funders take over, DOEN shifts its focus to strengthen and drive other transitions.

Setting an example

DOEN believes in the ability of people to bring about change and surprise society with their new ideas for a better world. Sometimes they do this alone, often with others, and usually it starts small but with a (potentially) big impact. In addition to the impact that the projects make, they are also important in setting an example: they show that things can and should be done differently. And thus, they inspire others.

An open service desk and scouting

DOEN is an open service desk: pioneers can submit an application for support via our website all the year round. The incoming applications are discussed weekly and approved or not. DOEN also scouts for pioneers who are working on the four major system transitions that DOEN wants to accelerate. Together, we are bringing a greener, more socially inclusive and creative world closer!