NGO Association Groningen Villages
Name / Title
NGO Association Groningen Villages
Case Study Region
Main activity / focus
Promote and ensure the vitality and liveability of rural Groningen through supporting local organisations, providing advice and acting as process managers.
Target beneficiaries / market
Civic & Community Development
Precursors started in 1978, today’s NGO in 2006
Current Funding source(s)
Rural Development Plan of Groningen Province
The Association Groningen Villages is an autonomous association and is managed by 11 board members, include a chief, a secretary, a treasurer and representatives of the different regions in Groningen. In addition, there is an advisor who is responsible for community houses, three advisors responsible for the interests of the different villages and two secretaries.
The Association Groningen Villages is a legal entity, supported by Groningen Province. It was founded in 2006 as a merger between the ‘Association Village Houses of Groningen’ (Dutch: Vereniging Groninger Dorpshuizen) and the ‘Association Small Villages of Groningen’ (Dutch: Vereniging Kleine Groninger Dorpen).
The precursors of the current NGO were established as ‘initiative groups against Groningen Province’ to demonstrate against the spatial plans released by the province in 1978 which suggested to stop investing in village amenities. Their initial activities were thus related to mobilizing the village citizens to support local amenities in order to conserve them. Gradually, their activities shifted towards discussions and negotiation with public administration for the interest of the villages.
Today, the NGO ‘Association Groningen Villages’ is considered to be an important factor in the field of rural development. It is a lobby group for the interests of villages in Groningen province and offers support to communal houses and their interest to ensure vitality in the different villages in Groningen. One of their main activities is thus to help establish and maintain contact with community houses in the different villages. The association thus acts as a cupola for community houses and their interests in Groningen province. The NGO further helps to initiate bottom-up development activities in the Westerkwartier. This function is regarded as particular important since ‘bottom-up activities do not start by themselves but need to be stimulated.’ To support the interests of the villages, the NGO employs 4 ½ advisors especially for the community houses to provide advice on support possibilities, regulate the modalities for villages in Groningen and lobby for the accommodation of their development visions in spatial plans of Groningen Province. In addition, the NGO spreads information through their website, a digital newsletter and they organise theme evenings (for example how to set up a village development vision). Next to their fixed work plan, the NGO also works on a project-base. The NGO also has informal contacts with public knowledge institutes but collaboration is regarded as difficult since it cannot be spontaneous due to its connection to courses and curricula. In addition, the NGO collaborates with advice bureaus, has access to a knowledge network and has its own advice commission.
The NGO is supported by Groningen province but is not associated with it. In order to receive subsidies, the Association Groningen Villages has to set up a multiannual programme every four to five years to present an overview of their past and planned activities. In addition, each year a work plan needs to be formulated. The province has an interest in the NGO because they are good in organizing people on the ground. This is necessary in the process of decentralisation which requires community support and an active role of denizens and volunteers in the local development processes. Based on their current activities and support received from the province, the NGO regards its future positively. At the moment, they share their work with the LAG and other development projects that have been installed with the help of LEADER, but ‘when LEADER ends, the association will have to come more to the forefront again.’
Kantoor Vereniging Groninger Dorpen