Financial Support That Works

29th June 2023

Over the last three years associations learned the hard way that nothing is written in stone and that they need to be prepared for all scenarios, good and bad. The ability to adapt to different situations is not acquired easily, but having a stable financial basis definitely helps the process. That is when the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC)’s special Fund for associations becomes an indispensable tool for the carefree organization of conferences.

Words Vicky Koffa

As Paul Gruijthuijsen, Project Manager of the Pre-financing & Guarantee Fund (VGF), explained to Boardroom some time ago, “the VGF is an independent foundation set up in the late 1980s. Our aim is to take away or reduce any financial concerns conference organizers might have when starting the initial preparations of an international conference in the Netherlands. In order to support them, we’ve founded the VGF in which you will find two schemes, the Pre-financing scheme and the Guarantee scheme, with the option to apply for one or for both of them.”

In practice, the Pre-financing scheme offers some financial support in the beginning of the organization of the conference when invoices need to be paid in order to start off the conference, bit the income from registration has not yet kicked in. With the second option, Guarantee scheme offers a sort of financial insurance, up to € 90.000, in case the conference ends up having fewer delegates than anticipated, resulting in a financial deficit for the association. Both services come free of charge for the organizer (regardless of the size of the conference) as long as the event is held in the Netherlands for more than one days and the organizer applies for them eight months before the conference.

VGF In Action

The special fund gives the Netherlands a strong selling point when it comes to choosing the next conference destination. Russel Hale, General Manager at Excellence in Pediatrics Institute, says: “When discussing with the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions in February 2020 about organizing our Excellence in Pediatrics Conference (EIP), right from the beginning it was clear that the VGF scheme placed the Netherlands above other destinations in terms of the partnership and support offered by the host city/country.”

At the time, the association was planning their 12th conference in Amsterdam in December 2020, but with onsite meetings cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic (the 12th and the 13th conferences took place virtually in 2020 and 2021), the application was moved to the 14th Excellence in Pediatrics conference in 2022. 

The competitive edge the Netherlands have against other destinations with this unique initiative is obvious for associations looking to alleviate their financial burden. Hale confirms: “The scheme’s existence was factored in when we decided to host the conference in Amsterdam. We were impressed by the city’s confidence in hosting meetings, and the VGF scheme demonstrates the city’s commitment to organizing and supporting successful conferences. Even more, it meant EIP were determined to organize the conference in Amsterdam in 2022 instead of moving to another city, even if we had already announced Amsterdam as the host city for the cancelled meetings in 2020 and 2021.”

The association opted to apply for both schemes as this seemed most beneficial for the annual event. “Both schemes are well-targeted to cover the different needs of conference organizers and associations. As always, when organizing a conference, many of the production costs occur early in the process while the revenues are collected later on and closer to the dates the meeting takes place. The Pre-financing scheme is a brilliant idea to help the organizers overcome the financial gaps early in the production process. It was also offered at zero interest, meaning no additional costs were incurred. Similarly, the Guarantee scheme is also an excellent idea since it gives the organizers confidence to select Amsterdam as the hosting city, not just as a destination, but as a partner throughout the whole process of hosting a live face-to-face meeting,”continues Hale.

Financial security

The financial security the Dutch idea provides becomes even more invaluable considering the ease of access associations have to it. The application process is as smooth, transparent and straightforward as it gets, with an experienced and willing to help team supporting interested clients every step of the way. 

Benefiting from the fund gives associations a boost on a psychological, financial and practical level to go on with their event no matter the difficulties. “For a conference organizer to have this kind of support is highly reassuring by bridging the financial gaps and minimizing the economic risks even when the environment is stable. As it happened, it gave us, in addition, the confidence to go through the extreme challenges posed by face-to-face meetings during the COVID pandemic, with the end result being the successful hosting of the meeting in Amsterdam in December 2022,” says Hale.

At no extra cost, the VGF seems too good to be true, but the thought behind it is simple: the more international business visitors come to the Netherlands the better it is for the economy. “Hosting international conferences in the Netherlands creates jobs and generates a great economic impact,” concludes Gruijthuijsen.

To know more about the Pre-financing & Guarantee Fund (VGF) get in touch with

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