Declaration of Responsibility
The European Cultural Foundation is an independent foundation working for a united Europe. We promote a European sentiment through culture, by developing and supporting initiatives that let us share, experience and imagine Europe.
The European Cultural Foundation has the ANBI ‘Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling’ status, meaning that the Foundation’s objective is to improve the wellbeing of the public. Since our objectives are fully related to culture more specifically, we were granted Cultural ANBI status. This status comes with additional tax benefits for donors. The European Cultural Foundation itself is not tax exempt.
Our RSIN ‘Rechtspersonen en Samenwerkingsverbanden Informatienummer’ / Fiscal number is 002967327. Our Chamber of Commerce number is 41199699.
Articles of Association
The European Cultural Foundation adheres to our Articles of Association and By-Laws. The current versions of both were approved by our Supervisory Board, on 17 December 2015 and 28 May 2019 respectively. We regularly assess whether these documents are still accurate; if necessary, they are reviewed and updated. The latest version of our Articles of Association is deposited at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.
The European Cultural Foundation has three main sources of income:
1. Income from the lotteries
Through a long-standing agreement with the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds (PCBF), renewed most recently on 2 February 2012, the Foundation receives 25% of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds’ non-earmarked lottery income.
2. Fundraised income
The European Cultural Foundation receives funding from commercial, non-profit and government institutions. We actively pursue these opportunities. Not all income received from the above-mentioned parties is considered fundraised income, according to the definition of the CBF.
3. Income from ECF’s securities portfolio
The European Cultural Foundation has a reserve in the form of a securities portfolio, which is managed externally by an asset manager. Our ambition is to cover our overhead expenses with the income generated through this securities portfolio. Furthermore, this securities portfolio acts as a buffer, allowing the organisation to continue operating for a limited period in case there is a drop in income.
Codes, rules and guidelines
Since July 2014, the European Cultural Foundation has held the CBF (Central Bureau for Fundraising Organisations) seal of approval for fundraising organisations. Since then, as a member of Goede Doelen Nederland, the European Cultural Foundation complies with all the necessary codes and guidelines, including the annually reviewed code for good governance (issued by the FIN, the Dutch Alliance of Philanthropic organisations) and the ‘Erkenningspaspoort Goede Doelen’.
In line with this, we adhere to the following three principles:
1. A clear separation between the roles of:
a. Management (ECF’s Director)
b. Supervision (ECF’s Supervisory Board)
c. Execution (ECF’s employees)
2. Optimising interaction with stakeholders
3. Optimising effectiveness and efficiency of expenditure
1. A clear separation between management, supervision and execution
The European Cultural Foundation makes a clear distinction between management, supervision and execution. The Supervisory Board appoints and supervises the Director. While the Director has managerial responsibilities, the Supervisory Board oversees the proper execution of these responsibilities. The Foundation’s employees carry out the day-to-day tasks.
The European Cultural Foundation’s management consists of one Director. The Director is responsible for representing the Foundation, and carries the responsibility for overall management, strategic development, execution of the Foundation’s strategy, management of the Foundation’s resources (human and monetary) and fund development.
At least twice a year, the Director formally reports to the Supervisory Board in a meeting in which the Director, the Supervisory Board and the Head of Finance are present. More regular and informal contact is maintained outside these meetings with individual members of the Supervisory Board.
Every week, the Director meets with the Management Team (MT) to discuss strategic matters as well as to monitor activities and operational matters. The MT consists of the Head of Finance, Heads of Programmes, Head of Public Policy, Head of Communications and Head of Operations.
André Wilkens is Director of the European Cultural Foundation. He was appointed on 15 November 2018. Prior to this appointment, André Wilkens held the following positions:
- Managing Director, Die Offene Gesellschaft, Berlin (2016-2018)
- Director, Mercator Centre Berlin (2009-2015)
- Head of Strategic Communications, UNHCR, Geneva (2009)
- Director, Open Society Institute, Brussels (2003-2009)
- Director, Ogilvy & Mather communications agency, Brussels (1999-2003)
- Programme Manager, European Training Foundation, Turin (1994-1999)
- Programme Manager, European Cooperation Fund, Brussels (1992-1994)
- Assistant to MEP, European Parliament, Brussels (1991).
- Board Chair, Tactical Tech, Berlin (Member since 2015, Chair since 2017)
- Founder / Board Member, Initiative Offene Gesellschaft (since 2016 / since 2018)
- Founding member, European Council of Foreign Relations (since 2007).
- Member of the Advisory Board, Co/Rizom (since 2018)
Supervisory Board’s responsibilities
The Supervisory Board is the European Cultural Foundation’s supervisory body. The Foundation’s Articles of Association and By-Laws state the roles and responsibilities of the Supervisory Board members.
The main responsibilities can be summarised as follows:
- deciding upon and evaluating the Foundation’s strategy, and prioritising the Foundation’s activities
- evaluating the efficient use of the Foundation’s resources (approval of budget and annual reporting of the Director and the Chair of the Supervisory Board in the ECF Annual Report)
- appointing the Foundation’s Director, members of the Supervisory Board and the President.
Supervisory Board as of 31 December 2021
At the end of this document, we have published a list of additional roles and responsibilities by Supervisory Board member.
- HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands (President)
- Gerry Salole (Chair from 26 November)
- Rien van Gendt (Vice-Chair from 26 November; Chair ad interim 1 January – 26 November)
- Rob Defares (Treasurer)
- Isabel Alçada (until 26 November)
- Florian Dautil
- Mária Hlavajová (until 28 May)
- Andrea Silvestri
- Catarina Vaz Pinto (from 26 November)
- Rana Zincir Celal
- James Kennedy (Advisor representing Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds; until 19 March 2021*)
* During their 19 March 2021 meeting the ECF Supervisory Board approved the proposal of PBCF in which the respective (Supervisory) Boards of ECF and the Cultuurfonds agree to end the practice of mutual representation on each other’s (Supervisory) Boards.
Appointments for the European Cultural Foundation’s Supervisory Board are based on a number of core criteria, including expertise, international perspective, cultural, regional and demographic diversity and a European network. Additional functions should be of value and should not lead to conflicting interests. In case of upcoming vacancies, candidates are put forward by the Supervisory Board, the Director and the staff of the Foundation from their extended network.
In 2014, the Supervisory Board started self-evaluating, in line with #8 of Article 11 of the Foundation’s Articles of Association. The annual evaluation is performed based on a list of questions that were developed by the Supervisory Board members.
The Supervisory Board members do not receive remuneration for their work for the European Cultural Foundation. However, expenses incurred for travel etc. are reimbursed on request.
The Executive Committee and the Audit Committee
The Executive Committee consists of the Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Director. The Executive Committee meets at least twice a year. Their mandate is to help prepare Supervisory Board meetings, to lay the groundwork for making decisions and to offer guidance to the Director.
The Audit Committee consists of the Director, the Vice-Chair, the Treasurer and one more Supervisory Board member.
The President holds an extraordinary, non-voting membership of the Supervisory Board and plays an active and visible role as specified in the Articles of Association.
Since 12 May 2007, the President of the European Cultural Foundation is HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands.
The term for Supervisory Board members is four years, renewable once (maximum 8 years), and for Executive Committee members renewable twice (maximum 12 years).
Conflicts of interest
Supervisory Board members are required to inform the Chair immediately of any activities, contracts / grants, etc. that could lead to a potential conflict of interest. Potential conflicts of interest are declared at each Supervisory Board meeting. The Chair will decide whether the Supervisory Board member will need to leave the room during particular discussions, or while a decision is being taken on a specific matter.
In addition, all Supervisory Board members are required to sign a statement to declare their endorsement of the principles stated at the beginning of this document and confirming that there is no conflict of interest between the responsibilities they fulfil for the European Cultural Foundation and other relationships / positions they hold. This declaration is a requirement of the CBF seal of approval.
The MT, together with their respective teams, is responsible for the implementation of the Foundation’s strategy, as well as development and execution of the Foundation’s activities, procedures and policies.
2. Optimising interaction with stakeholders
The European Cultural Foundation’s largest donor is the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds (PBCF). Every quarter there is a meeting between the two organisations’ directors and key staff to discuss strategy, operational activities and possibilities for exchange of information / knowledge, and collaboration.
The European Cultural Foundation receives funding from a number of different sources. An overview of all amounts received per source is included in the Foundation’s annual accounts.
The European Cultural Foundation maintains good and regular contact with all of these organisations at a director and programme level.
The recipients of European Cultural Foundation grants represent the future of culture in the regions where the Foundation is active. They are the Foundation’s eyes and ears in the regions. The European Cultural Foundation maintains contact with a large number of grantees through our network and social media channels. Additionally, some grantees become partners or participants in other ECF projects, become contributors to one of our publications, or (successfully) apply for another grant.
In order to make optimum use of each other’s resources (staff, expertise, network, etc.), the European Cultural Foundation often undertakes projects with one or multiple NGO project partners. For all strategic partnerships, please see the Activities Report and Financial Report.
For all partnerships, a contract is agreed and evaluation mechanisms are in place. An example of such an evaluation mechanism is the narrative and financial reporting done at the end of a project before the receipt of the final instalment of the Foundation’s monetary contribution.
The European Cultural Foundation’s communication with our project partners is ongoing, with regular updates about new developments and potential for collaboration. This contact is at different levels, with directors meeting more formally, and programme managers having more frequent and informal contact, concerning the contents and progress of a project.
Employee Representation Group
The Foundation has a ‘Personeelsvertegenwoordiging’ (PVT; employee representation group), consisting of three to four elected staff members. The PVT has quarterly meetings with the Director and Head of Operations. Its aim is to ensure discussion and dialogue between management and staff on a regular basis.
The Supervisory Board has agreed to meet with the PVT each year, in principle during the meeting near mid/year, to reflect on the past year.
3. Optimising effectiveness and efficiency of expenditure
The European Cultural Foundation manages a wide range of instruments to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of our expenditure. The most important instruments we use are mentioned below.
A monthly financial report is generated automatically through a link with our accounting system (Exact). Budget managers have real-time, online access to these reports.
Each quarter, a management report is compiled providing ample information about the Foundation’s income, expenditure and balances. It provides analysis against budgets and explanation on project expenditure. Additionally, it gives an estimate of the expected expenditure for the full year. The quarterly reports are shared with the Treasurer, the Supervisory Board, all ECF budget holders and the management of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.
An overview is compiled representing all outstanding, contractual obligations at the end of each quarter. These are shared with all budget managers for monitoring and analysis.
Ad hoc reporting
On a regular basis ad hoc reports (internal and external) are generated for specific projects or cost codes in order for the managers of these projects / the Finance team to analyse expenditure.
There are clear reporting guidelines for grantees, which are agreed in the contracts. Only upon receipt of a report that shows the agreed progress and results will ECF transfer the next or final instalment. Grantees and partners are required to comply with the European Cultural Foundation’s guidelines on reporting and crediting the Foundation.
If a grantee / partner has not completed the project within the agreed timeframe, the Foundation could decide to cancel the outstanding grant. The total amount of cancelled grants is reflected in the ECF annual accounts.
Authorisation of contracts
The Director signs all contracts and the Treasurer signs all contracts over €20,000.
External auditor – Annual Accounts
In 2021, ECF went through a call for auditors. We evaluated four proposals and decided to stick with (a new team from) Dubois & Co, a firm with whom we had worked in previous years. After performing the annual audit, the external auditor reports its findings to the Audit Committee. Dubois & Co prepares the auditor’s report and a management letter, which reflects their findings. Both documents are shared with the Supervisory Board, which approves the Annual Report. Following ECF’s Articles of Association, the Supervisory Board approves the auditor that audits the annual accounts. The European Cultural Foundation follows guideline RJ650 for the reporting of their annual accounts. As fundraising organisation the ECF needs to adhere to these guidelines.
External auditor – Donor reporting
Several organisations that fund the European Cultural Foundation’s activities require an audit report as part of the final project report. We work with several auditors to comply with these requirements.
The choice of auditor depends on the specific requirements of the funder, location of the project, location of the main partner (generally responsible for administration) and expertise of the auditor. Budget is a consideration, but the quality of the audit exceeds this consideration in importance.
Evaluation, potential threats and outlook
How we evaluate
Impact assessment and evaluation is an important aspect of the European Cultural Foundation’s work and is carried out by our Research & Development team. We apply a variety of internal and external evaluation methods and tools to our programmes to take stock of our achievements, to learn from our experience, to share knowledge within and beyond the European Cultural Foundation, and to inform our decisions and strategies going forward. Evaluation results demonstrate to our donors and partners how we achieve our goals.
Before launching any new programme, we conduct feasibility studies, mappings or exploratory reflection groups with stakeholders from the countries and topical areas we plan to address. The aim of these activities is to analyse the contexts and identify the needs and the urgencies on which we focus the future programme’s objectives and activities. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation help us to adjust our multiannual programmes and tools towards stronger outcomes and impact.
The European Cultural Foundation has undertaken a comprehensive risk analysis of all the aspects of the strategy, organisation, operations and governance to define risk areas and put in place mechanisms for mitigating any risk.
- A fast-changing European and international context urges us to engage proactively with the current political, cultural climate and realities in order to achieve our goals.
- The second year of the Covid pandemic required a high degree of flexibility and resilience. ECF has established a Covid task force and hybrid office framework to deal with the challenges on a day-to-day level.
- There are proposed changes to Dutch regulation on cross-border finance that could affect ECF’s European funding practice.
- The Ministry of Justice of the Netherlands has decided to permit new online gambling. This may affect the level of lottery funding received by the European Cultural Foundation in the future.
- The European Cultural Foundation is highly dependent on a single source of income that can vary annually. Through the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, we are guaranteed to receive income from Vriendenloterij (formerly BankGiroLoterij) and Nederlandse Loterij Organisatie until 2032, when the contract between the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and ECF will expire. The Foundation has a strategy to diversify and Europeanise income sources over the next years to decrease dependency on the Dutch lottery income and upscale our financial resources.
- The Foundation continuously monitors and addresses security matters concerning data protection and avoiding data loss. We have an Information Security Policy in place to guarantee the availability, integrity and confidentiality of critical information systems. We comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- The political environment in which the European Cultural Foundation operates could lead to safety, communications and reputational concerns for individuals related to our work. We have a Travel Safety Policy and a Crisis Management Team.
- We have reviewed and expanded our Integrity Policy, including a Code of Conduct and a grievance procedure to prevent and accurately address unwanted behaviour and integrity violations.