What we do
Het Actiefonds is independent, socially just and revolutionary. We are a fund for activism. Since 1965, we collect money from private individuals to finance activists all over the globe that are fighting for a righteous and sustainable society. These are the people that both notice and decide to act upon social injustice and other faulty deeds in their direct environment. These are the people that believe there ís a different way, people who therefore strive and act for a solidary and healthy planet.
Het Actiefonds is convinced sincere and actual positive change is always realised via bottom-up strategies. Change takes place through societal pressure: huge turning-points in history always happened through the public standing up for their own rights. Thus, our goal is to support social justice movements that are still in their early phase. Those that need it most. We strengthen the voice and power of local activist organisations via supplying the financial necessities required to organise, speak up – and ultimately cause sustainable and structural change. This global focus combined with a small-scale local approach is a key characteristic of Het Actiefonds.
Het Actiefonds believes in the mobilising, inspiring and of potential for change through peaceful direct action. These are the activities that make us realise alternatives –are- possible. They trigger us to rethink the current situation, how we would like to re- and deconstruct our societies. Through action, people start seeing and seeking methods for change, they start dreaming and ultimately act upon those ideas. Through experimenting people realise possibilities are way beyond expectations. Thefore Het Actiefonds acquired the preference of supporting direct, concrete action.
Het Actiefonds is independent and remains critical of its donators – this means that our income purely stems from private donations. By not accepting money from government, business of political parties we are able to support the activist groups that dare to speak up against the vested powers. Does this vision fit you? Become a donator today! With your help, we can keep providing the support for movements fighting for a better world.
Het Actiefonds was founded in 1968. The fund rose from a wider societal movement fighting for a fairer distribution of wealth all around the world. A starting point came from ‘de Pleingroep’ – a group which turned itself against the decision of cabinet Drees (1954) that wanted to reduce taxes to increase consumption. This group was against the method of tax reduction and demanded the government would spend tax money for a more just, worldwide distribution of wealth. Under leadership of Rome-Catholic priest Simon Jelsma, a gathering at Het Plein in The Hague took place every two weeks. Among their actions was the ‘eerstdaadwerkelijke gerechtigheid’ – meaning the first and true justice. Thirty members of the group calculated what their tax reduction would be and – while waving the money -walked towards the Ministry of Finance to donate it. The story goes that public officials went tilt regarding how this money ought to be registered. Voluntarily payment of extra taxes was impossible to register through their methods of accounting.
The United Nations – 1958
Four years later, in 1968, the United Nations General Assembly asked rich countries to reserve 1% of their national income for ‘third world’ development. The participants of ‘de Pleingroup’ are excited for proposal by the United Nations and now herald their actions as ‘one project of true justice’. They sent their money straight towards Novib; that transfers most of it towards the United Nations.
The X-Y campaign – 1968
The World Council of Churches calls upon Christian communities from economically well faring countries to donate money through voluntary tax towards developmental aid. The percentage had to correspond with the monetary difference between the actual help provided by the government (X) and the amount they ought to spend (Y). Therefore, the campaign was named X-Y.
This difference – X minus Y – is what participants could voluntarily donate. Novib announced the start of this action and sent their 3000 members a letter of ‘one percent of true justice’ – in which they are heralded as members of the Novib working group ‘X-Y action for world tax’. Apart from Novib, various churches are responsible for launching this action. Additional support comes from the protestant and reformed synod, Partij van de Arbeid and D66, amongst others. Until 1972 calculations were done to pinpoint the amounts which ought to be donated. Half on the incoming money goes towards the VN and the other amounts towards the then-called ‘third world’. The Mozambique freedom movement Frelimo, protestant students in Chilli and the Grandam-movement in India fighting for land rights were among the first that received support from X-Y.
Het Actiefonds continues independently – the seventies
In 1970, change occurred in Het Actiefonds’s ways of working – the link of their actions with governmental developmental aid is dismissed. Money is allocated towards steering structure and mentality within The Netherlands itself. Het Actiefonds developed their own criteria: only projects that, due to political cause(s), are not able to gain subsidies, are able to apply for help. There must be proper space for urgent and ‘secret’ projects. In 1973, Het Actiefonds became an independent foundation of 8000 members. A big success factor was people’s dissatisfaction with the policies posed by Novib, who were thought to be claiming too much credit for the before mentioned X-Y actions. In the remaining of the seventies, lots of attention was given to mentality-driven change in The Netherlands and structural change in developing countries. Many freedom movements gained support and donation towards the United Nations was put to a halt.
Projects in The Netherlands – the eighties
In the eighties, Het Actiefonds decides that activist groups pursuing their cause in The Netherlands are also able to apply for aid: the anti-nuclear energy and squatting movements are prime examples thereof. By the end of the decade, Het Actiefonds did a successful campaign – ‘Media voor Verzet’ – to gather support regarding radio communication of protest movements in, amongst others, El Salvador and Eritrea.
Work through campaigning – the nineties
Campaigns – as Het Actiefonds has already been doing for decades – are more and more aimed towards the gathering of new donators. The campaign ‘Heineken uit Birma’ was at making giant beer-brewer Heineken leave the country; while simultaneously gather new Het Actiefonds supporters. That strategy worked: Heineken succumbed and Het Actiefonds acquired a bunch of new donators. Campaigns are held for a myriad of themes such as right to independence for the Kurds, stop weapon supply towards Indonesia, neoliberal Dutch policy and support for worldwide sexual minorities.
New initiatives – the zeroes
The work of Het Actiefonds keeps on growing steadily in the new millennium. Het Actiefonds starts a new platform, Bureau Zwart-Werk, an employment agency for people residing illegaly. This action is also aimed at the terrible situation many migrants experience, as well as against obligatory identification policy.
Furthermore, Het Actiefonds is gaining an increasing role in the globalisation debate. Het Actiefonds also sprawls initiatives such as ‘Voor de Verandering’ (for the change) that aim to develop and improve social and sustainable alternatives to the socio-economic status quo. This specific working group became an independent foundation since 2009 – but also during the launch of ATTAC Nederland, Het Actiefonds took an initiating role.
50 years of Het Actiefonds
In 2018, Het Actiefonds is celebration her 50th anniversary. Enough reasons to launch a brand-new identity. From now on, we aim to communicate through imagery that expresses what we do: support activist and realising radical societal change. The name of the organisation is to be updated as well: XminY – hét actiefonds is replaced for Het Actiefonds. This new name exhibits in a more powerful manner what the organisation stands for and how it utilises its means to envisioned ends. Extra weight will be put on the transition of an organisation based on taxes and development aid towards an independent action fund that supports social movements around the world.