Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Statistics Netherlands, CBS
Statistics Netherlands, CBS

If you are looking to support a given social or not-for-profit cause, e.g. nature conservation, cultural heritage or a charity, one option may be to create a legal entity in the form of a 'foundation', or in Dutch a stichting.

What is a foundation?

A foundation is an organisation that does not aim to make a profit. The money raised by a foundation consists of donations, loans, subsidies and legacies. Its primarily purpose is to support a social or non-profit cause. It may also be a business, but its profits must be allocated to the foundation's cause or purpose.

A foundation has a board, but no members and no shareholders. Therefore, a general meeting of members is not needed. If you decide to appoint a supervisory board, you must lay this down in the articles of association. A supervisory board monitors the board of directors.

The purpose of a foundation may be different from serving as a charity. For example, professional football clubs, broadcasting companies, hospitals, museums, laboratories and healthcare institutions can also be a stichting.

Setting up a foundation

You will need a civil-law notary to draft a deed of formation, stating that you have created a stichting and listing its articles of association. It is possible to set up a foundation on your own or with other individuals and/or legal entities, e.g. a private limited company (bv). You can even do this posthumously in your will.

A stichting's articles of association should include:

  • Name, including the word 'stichting'
  • Purpose/cause
  • Procedures for appointing and removing officers
  • Location
  • Decision-making procedures
  • Procedures and payments in the event of dissolution

Articles of association often also include rules about the foundation's organisation. Be aware that you will need a civil-law notary to amend the formation deed whenever you need to amend your foundation's articles of association.

It is mandatory to register your foundation in the Business Register (Handelsregister) at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK. You remain personally liable until you have done this.


You do not need a minimum starting capital to set up a foundation. You pay a one-time fee to register your foundation in the Business Register. The costs for a civil-law notary vary between €400 and €1,000. In addition, there are administrative costs. The average annual administration costs range from €600 to €1,800. Foundations with commercial activities must file their financial statements with KVK, if their turnover exceeds a certain threshold. Read this KVK article to find out what the conditions are, and which financial statements you have to submit.


A foundation operating as a business usually pays corporate income tax (vennootschapsbelasting). In this context, a 'business' is any organisation running on capital and labour for the purpose of making profit through commercial activities and economic transactions. Any profits must be allocated to the foundation's cause or purpose. Not all foundations have to pay corporate income tax. Read which foundations are exempt.

Whether a foundation has to pay and charge VAT depends on its specific situation.


A foundation is a legal entity, which means that its board members are theoretically not liable for any debts. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. For example, mismanagement, negligence, or failure to list the foundation in the Dutch Business Register.

Inform KVK about any board member changes within eight days. If they remain listed in the Dutch Business Register, former board members could be held liable for debts.

Signing authority

The board as a whole is authorised to sign. This means that members may either jointly or individually sign contracts or perform certain legal acts on behalf of the foundation, such as reporting a change in the Business Register. These agreements are laid down in the articles of association.

The board can also choose to appoint power of attorney to someone else. This person is then authorised to act on behalf of the foundation. It can be useful to register this person in the Business Register. This way your business partners also know who is allowed to act on behalf of the foundation.


A foundation can employ staff. You then have to pay payroll taxes and social contributions for your personnel. If you are hiring an employee for the first time, you must register as an employer with the Tax Administration. You must also report this to the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce. Read the checklist Employing staff in the Netherlands for more information.

As a board member, you can be employed by the foundation. You receive a compensation for your labour, which needs to be in proportion to the work you have performed. Associations with an ANBI status are not allowed to employ board members. Usually, the members only receive a compensation for costs incurred.

Social security and national insurance contributions

Board members employed by the foundation are covered by any employee insurance schemes. If you are not employed, you can take out voluntary insurance. You can also build up a pension yourself.

Ending a foundation

If you want to end your foundation, the board first has to decide on dissolving the legal entity. A dissolved legal entity does not immediately cease to exist. The legal entity is not terminated until all debts and payouts have been paid. Do assets remain? You have determined in the articles of association where that money goes.

Read more about dissolving a legal entity.

Do you want to amend the articles of association? This is decided by the board. In the articles of association you have laid down how the board can amend the articles of association. The notary verifies the changes and implements them.

Does the composition of your board change? Report the board change to KVK within 8 days. Resigned directors who are still in the Business Register run the risk of being held liable.

Statistics: associations and foundations

Number of associations and foundations.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK