I’m over in Holland today for the second annual Nationale Vakdag Fondsenwerving (or “National profession day fund recruitment” if, like me, you rely on online translation site babelfish to translate Dutch to English;-), along with something like 1,700 Dutch fundraisers.
Flicking through the session programme, one thing that occurs to me is the number of sessions mentioning fundraising through online social networks – which I really don’t remember seeing at this conference last year. It’s great to see, because in preparing for my session I found lots of research that suggests fundraisers in Holland have an incredible opportunity to capitalise on social networking – because the Dutch seem to love it (which I guess really shouldn’t come as a surprise given how sociable all the Dutch folks I know are).
Recently released findings from an international research study by Synovate show Dutch adults to be more likely than those in any other country to be members of an online social network, with 49% aged 18 to 65 saying they are joiners. A finding supported by Universal McCann’s Social Media Tracker from March 08, which shows 36% of the Dutch population to be members of online social networks.
As a nation, the Dutch have always been at the front of the internet adoption curve, and by the end of 2007 they had the world’s 3rd highest penetration of broadband – at c80% of households. Add to this their general sociability and the great importance of family and community here, and I guess you’re got the perfect environment for online social network adoption.
It also explains the phenomenal success of Holland’s home-grown, primarily Dutch-language, social network site Hyves. With over 7.73m members (in a country with a total population of 16.4m at the start of this year), the site is the market leader by miles – leaving the usual international sites like MySpace far, far behind. For example, according to data kindly provided to me by online research specialists comScore, in May 2008 Hyves received 5,778k million unique visitors compared to second place LiveSpaces at 1,825k and MySpace at 389k – and Hyves was up +87% on the same time last year, while the other two were down -27% and -40% respectively.
Dear old Facebook isn’t really anywhere to be seen – although last time I logged-on to my profile here in Holland it asked me if I would help it translate the site into Dutch – so it looks like they’re trying to get more of a toehold.
Now, to an overseas visitor, Hyves may not look to be quite as developed a place to hang-out as some of the other social network sites around. Visually, it comes-across as somewhat ‘early MySpace’ – once aptly described as like a digital ‘teenager’s bedroom’. And, as I understand it, bespoke widgets are a relatively new addition to the functionality and there don’t seem to be a great many of them available as yet (althought it’s great to see some fundraisers, like the Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds, are already using them). However, you can’t argue with an online community with that sort of the national population already signed-up, and still growing at a pace that leaves its competitors well behind. Now that online community fundraising is becoming a particularly hot topic here, it’ll be very intersting to watch how fundraisers tap-into this national phenomenon over the coming months.
In addition, several Dutch organisations are tapping into online community fundraising through the creation of their own fundraising community sites. Including Vogelbescherming Nederland, who are using the neat YOKO platform developed by my former colleagues at WWAV Holland, that comes complete with easy blogging functionality for online supporters who might not have ever considered posting to a blog before. I’m due to be catching-up with the WWAV team tomorrow, so if I hear there about any other Dutch organisations doing good stuff then I’ll add another post.
Quick update – for all the people who asked if they could get a copy of my presentation, here it is on Slideshare