Can you explain what the Pre-Financing & Guarantee Fund (VGF) is about?
The Pre-Financing & Guarantee Fund (VGF) was set up in the late ‘80s by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC) and some 20 companies from the congress industry.
The idea behind the VGF is to create jobs and give an economic impulse to our national economy. The average spent of an international conference delegate is around € 1.000- per conference (covering airfares, taxis, accommodation, gifts, drinks, food, etc.), so the VGF wants to stimulate as many conference organizers as possible to come to the Netherlands with their international conference.
It is my job to inform the different stakeholders (associations, PCOs, convention bureaux & sales departments in congress centres) on how the Pre-financing & Guarantee Fund can reduce financial risks for conference organisers coming to the Netherlands.
The VGF is actually a unique tool in Europe. As far as we know there is no similar fund that pre-finances conferences and gives financial guarantees to planners, should they have a deficit at the end of the conference…
There are so many different topics on which conferences can be organized, but the academic playing field is enormously big and not always very transparent: we’d like to get our message across, but it’s not always easy, even if we’re only trying to help!
How does the VGF actually works?
As far as we know, conference organizers have 3 concerns: the first relates to the content, the second to logistics and the third to finances.
Regarding content, a conference organizer is usually a scientist or healthcare professional who has all the expertise and knowledge of the subject at hand. So, coming up with the right content is usually no problem.
Regarding logistics some associations have their own inhouse conference desk or organizing staff. If not, they can potentially hire the expertise and support of a PCO.
Regarding finances, there are a few uncertainties and challenges. Since the organization of a conference starts a few years in advance usually, the association might not have sufficient cash-flow to pre-pay any invoices they might receive for contracting a venue or developing marketing tools. In order to help the association with that cash-flow we offer a free-of-charge and interest-free pre-Financing Scheme.
Also, the uncertainty every organizer can experience – especially during unforeseen events such the COVID-19 pandemic – is the fact that the number of delegates might fluctuate, which makes it difficult to come up with a budget. Should you have fewer delegates than expected and therefore a loss on your conference budget, the VGF can make an agreement up front and take financial responsibility for that unforeseen loss. That’s the Guarantee Scheme.
Both schemes can be combined.
Often we are asked why do you do this? Well, the answer to that question lies in the very raison d’être of our foundation. Reducing financial risks so organizers have fewer concerns when organising a conference will hopefully contribute to their decision-making process and tilt the decision in favour of the Netherlands.
What are the criteria for applying to the VGF?
The conference needs to take place in the Netherlands obviously, and over multiple days. A majority of delegates must attend in person and not online, and there needs to be an exchange of knowledge. The organization and budget of the conference must be set up by an association or person with verifiable experience in planning similar events. The application must be submitted eight months before the start of the conference. And the maximum amount of Pre-financing or Guarantee is € €90,000.
The VGF works within the framework of an independent foundation and we work closely with the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions, the various Dutch cities and regional convention bureaus and, of course, congress centres and hotels.
The good thing is that some Dutch cities can offer additional subsidies, even when you have applied for the VGF. We are happy to share any information about that when you get in touch with us!
The Netherlands is a relatively small country and we pride ourselves in a whole-of-country approach, where everybody works hand in hand. So not only can the VGF help you reduce financial risks, it can also put you in contact with the right knowledge partner or institution should you wish additional information on how to best organize your conference in the Netherlands.
More information on the Pre-financing & Guarantee Fund (VGF) can be found on www.vgfholland.nl/en