Frank Molkenboer makes it in Tilburg

The Great Club action can justifiably be called a piece of cultural heritage. The national, annual lottery, which allows associations to raise money, is a concept and is being organised for the 47th time this year. Anyone looking for the history of its origins will find themselves in Tilburg. Here Pierre Claessens, editor-in-chief of the former Nieuwsblad van het Zuiden, and partner Gerrit van den Broek founded the lottery in 1972 in order to offer local associations financial support. After five years, the lottery went national and now some 5300 associations from all over the country participate every year. To this day, the foundation keeps its office behind the Large Club Action in Tilburg. Director Frank Molkenboer: "This is where our roots lie and we are proud of that. We are still that sympathetic, maybe even a bit of a kneading club from Tilburg. That image suits us." 


Through the Grote Clubactie, all sports, music, hobby and cultural clubs in the Netherlands can sell tickets once a year in order to obtain extra income. In 2018, 2.9 million tickets were sold by 225,000 mainly young club members. In total good for a gross yield of 8.7 million euros of which 80% or 7 million euros directly to the participating clubs and associations has gone. "What touches me every year is not the number of tickets sold, but the fact that so many people are committed to their association," says Molkenboer. "Nowhere else in the world is club life so organised as here in the Netherlands. It is a voluntary event with a strong social character. I firmly believe in the added value of associations. But they are not self-evident. The children who sell tickets now have to become the committee members of the future. We make them aware that together you have to put your shoulders to the wheel in order to preserve what has been built up."


Molkenboer is a sportsman and Brabander in heart and soul. He was trained as a sports instructor and made a career in sports promotion and marketing at various municipalities, including Tilburg. He was also manager commercial affairs and later general manager of Tilburg's proud Willem II. Six years ago he became director of the Grote Clubactie. "We make sure that participants in the lottery can sell as many tickets as possible. We do this with a small, agile team of ten people. The Tilburg mentality of 'not talking too much, but just doing it' is deeply embedded in our DNA. If I need partners, such as a lawyer or advertising agency, I always get it from Tilburg. We speak the same language and that's great. Of course we are a nationally operating organisation and sometimes the Randstad attracts. However, we don't have any plans to relocate. The business climate and the mindset here are good. We're in a perfect position."


The big club action involves much less money than other lotteries such as the Friends Lottery or the Postcode Lottery. However, they all have to follow the same rules. Molkenboer: "Our contribution remains 80%. Even though the legal lower limit for lotteries will be lowered to 40% by 1 January 2020. Our sole concern is to support the club life in the Netherlands. No more, no less. The average yield per club is about 1700 euros per year. That may not seem like much. But if you all raise 1700 euros for the club, that makes so much more impact than if you just receive a cheque. Tilburg is a social industrial city where people traditionally fight together to get something done. Where one looks at the long term and the collective interest. That takes energy and time, but if it succeeds in Tilburg, it succeeds everywhere. We have already shown this with the Large Club Action!"


Despite the proven success of the Great Club Action, Molkenboer remains modest. "We don't shout from the rooftops that we are the largest fundraiser for club life in the Netherlands. And not that we come from Tilburg either. Even though we are actually allowed to shout this. As far as that's concerned, we sometimes show Calimero behaviour. Do we pretend to be smaller than we are?" Molkenboer sees a parallel here with the city of Tilburg. "Look at transport company GVT, the Spoorzone, the Piushaven and the LocHal. Success stories in abundance. Still, I have the feeling that we can do even better on stage. That's why I'm happy that City Marketing is here. It's good to put Tilburg on the map together."


When asked whether selling tickets at the door is still of our time, Frank Molkenboer has a clear answer: "Look, in 2018 we had the best year in our history. But we have to innovate to remain relevant. Lottery sales will become increasingly digital over the next ten years. Soon you won't be going through the doors any more, but you can just send a whatsappje or Facebook message with a purchase link. At the Grote Clubactie we continue to look for ways to relieve volunteers, so that they can participate in our action without it taking up too much time or effort. As long as we can continue to activate the club life in the Netherlands - also digitally - to work for their club, we have a right to exist."


"If everything's right, you'll win the game. That's my philosophy. Make sure you have focus and as little distraction as possible, and keep your eyes on the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Then you scribble up and see how you can do it differently next time. That, too, is entrepreneurship."


Everything counts up, everyone participates

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