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Executive Board column: Opportunities for researchers and donors

If we need funding for a project, equipment or research at the university, we automatically think of the Dutch Research Council or other grant providers. But more and more researchers are managing to connect with people who care about the university. And there more opportunities, for researchers and donors alike.

In this column Annetje Ottow, Hester Bijl and Martijn Ridderbos give a peek behind the scenes at the Executive Board of Leiden University. What does their work involve? What makes them enthusiastic? What challenges do they face? Building a healthy and engaged learning community begins with sharing what you are up to. This time it’s Annetje Ottow’s turn. 

At our Keyholders Dinner on 6 October (for a close network of engaged alumni and other friends of the university who care about academia), I saw how keen the university’s donors are to help us make a big impact on society. Leiden University Libraries (UBL) has received a large collection of maps from two generous donors, for example, along with a wonderful financial contribution to manage and open up this collection. This led to the publication of the highly successful book Maps That Made History − 1000 Years of World History in 100 Old Maps, which has brought history to a wide audience.

Donors often share our passion for talent development and science. And they often have very personal reasons for donating to a particular research project. I am always deeply touched by their personal stories and engagement. Take Jeroen Derwort, for example, who founded the H.M. Derwort Fund in memory of his late mother. This fund supports initiatives that help children and young people deal with anxiety and insecurity, something he himself struggled with for a long time.


The Leiden University Fund (LUF) helps people who want to donate to our university to find an initiative that suits them. And they can use some help with this from our researchers. So if you are seeking funding for a project, the LUF might be an option. A great match could be made between your research and a donor. And if you are an alumnus or other donor and are considering supporting our university’s research with a financial contribution, the LUF might be one way to do so.

It’s lovely to see that people who contribute through the LUF are often very interested and personally involved in our research or project. This gives our researchers recognition for the work that they do. And by making time for our donors and involving them in our research and teaching, we in turn can show them how they help us make an impact on society. This is the secret of a great relationship of which I am very proud.

Share your thoughts or experiences by sending an email to a.t.ottow@cvb.leidenuniv.nl.

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