The process of creating a foundation was simple, and we got off to an eager start. Soon, however, we discovered that it was less straightforward to determine how our family could give concrete form to the desire to “do good” for society. It took a lot of thinking and conversation to reach agreement on how we could best deploy our resources. To further develop our sense of direction, we spoke with friends, acquaintances, business contacts and experts in the philanthropic sector. At the same time, we started acquiring practical experience by making several small donations.
And so began our journey of discovery. A journey in which we as a family and as human beings aligned our values and our standards. It was a process of soul searching, in pursuit of our added value, from generous giving to widely diverse charities and recipients to strategic donations that addressed specific societal challenges.
Eventually, a shared mission emerged that we could stand behind as a family, and with that we found the basis for establishing a professional organization through which we could realize our wish to do good-and to do it well. Adessium Foundation was the start of our life’s work.
Though our initial thinking sprang from our individual frames of reference, we gradually developed a shared mission. In the end, to us Adessium also means “moving forward together” and allowing room for each other’s ideas and ideals in what we wish to support. Room for nature and for people. In all modesty, with the ultimate goal of contributing to the quality of life in general, without having the illusion of being able to change the whole world. To make a difference through compassion. Contributing to Nature and Society is far more than just a slogan. The meaning embedded in that phrase represents a sentiment that goes far deeper than one might suspect.
After a broad inventory of potential recipients, we began to feel a need for focus. It would take a great deal of work to realize a long-cherished wish, the development of a logical strategic framework. The phrase “compassion for fellow human beings” ultimately evolved into our Social Initiatives program. After a detour through Nature & Resources, in which gold, timber and the fishing industry passed in review, stewardship formed the basis for our People & Nature program. Attention to human rights, justice and truth-seeking led to the Informed Society program, which was later called Public Integrity and now goes by the name Public Interest.
Today, our mission is clear: Adessium Foundation aspires to a society that encourages people to live in harmony with each other and with their environments. The foundation works to achieve a balanced society characterized by integrity, a balance between people and nature, and social harmony. Through our three programs Public Interest, People & Nature and Social Initiatives, we stand for an open, democratic society. A society that makes responsible use of nature and natural resources and that provides everyone with equal opportunities.
And despite the apocryphal drop in the ocean, as our contributions and involvement sometimes feel, I like to keep this thought front and center: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our world today was just a tiny bit better than yesterday?
Yes, it would!
Rogier van Vliet
Publication date: May 2016