Dutilh family foundation: what next?

By Jacob Dutilh

40 years ago, the special issue of the Dutilhiteiten related to the 20th anniversary of our family looked ahead to the year 2000. At the time, the editors asked how family members saw the future of our family foundation and what meaning it would have for the members. Below are two of the responses:

The Foundation is there for the family, the family not for the Foundation (board); whether you contribute or not, only the blood ties count in the long run. Now that no one in the family can or wants to fulfill the role of nestor, the Foundation take over some of those tasks. Most important are keeping the family together and arranging the New Year’s reunion. Publishing Dutilhiteiten is fun but certainly not a must.


The Foundation in the year 2000? If no one cancels her, she still exists.

The full Party issue can be found on our site www.dutilh.com.

We are now 40 years later, and our family foundation is still active, thanks to the efforts of some involved family members. On the other hand, it also proves difficult to actively involve people in our foundation, which means that our future is uncertain. Time to take stock and look ahead again. To this end I have made a start, the results of which you can read below.

I personally asked 21 people from different branches of our family to answer some questions. I received a response from 7 people (33%). One of them indicated that he was not sufficiently involved with the family to be able to answer the questions properly.

Reunions, Dutilhiteiten and lustra are mentioned as the most important activities of the foundation. Karin (daughter of Karel from Turkey) lives in Switzerland but knows the Netherlands well. She believes that the foundation is quite active all over the world and also has good contact with a few. Of the respondents, Renske (daughter of Olivier) is the most active within the foundation: “The trip to Clairac was a highlight for me. It felt like a little vacation with a lot of information about our family history.” Like Gilles (son of Klaas), she also regularly writes for Dutilhiteiten and attends most reunions. Tom (Jop’s son) indicates that he would like to play a role in the board or a committee in the future, just like his brother Daan, who is now on the editorial board. Adrienne Vriesendorp and Karin cannot easily come to activities, they are usually abroad during the reunions on January 1.

What does the future look like? For 2050, Karin is thinking of a worldwide network of family members who maintain contact with and support each other. An anonymous family member writes: “Maybe in 2050 there will be a somewhat broader admission policy (more than 1 generation through the female line). Internet will be used more.” Adrienne: “Should you limit yourself to name bearers and their (grand)children or involve more relations/distant relatives as has happened in recent years?” Gilles: “I would like it if the foundation continues, but I am not prepared to contribute much to it myself. A bit like a free-rider with a small contribution every now and then. Maybe one day the foundation can get a forum/wiki form?” The website dutilh.com is unknown territory for all respondents, but it certainly offers opportunities. The fact that you have to have an account for many parts is mentioned as a hindrance.

Three respondents want to move the reunion to another moment, each time for different reasons. Renske: “I really like 1 January because (almost) everyone is free and doesn’t often have other plans either. Adrienne: “I have serious doubts about the sustainability of the New Year’s meeting. Too static. That could (for the time being) remain for the older generation. But once a year organize a drink for the younger generation in Amsterdam or Rotterdam. The young people have to get to know each other otherwise it will fall apart.”

The lustra are also considered. Tom: “Nice to do it abroad again, but be careful that people drop out too”. Karin: “A lustrum outside the Netherlands can be interesting for people to discover new places.” Adrienne: “There is still plenty to see and do in the Netherlands. Have someone from the younger generation tell what he/she does in everyday life in an appropriate place. I think we have quite a wide variety of talents in the ranks. All together to a performance by Guido!”

And finally Dutilhiteiten? Renske: “I think the magazines are beautiful every year, so I would definitely like to leave it that way.” Karin: “I am happy with the English pieces. It would be better for the environment if the magazine could only be read online in the future.” Gilles: “I always like to browse through, I only read things from the people I know.” Adrienne: “Dutilhiteiten is the most important medium for me to stay connected with the foundation. I would certainly like to switch to digital and not only in 2050. And something more innovative.”

What now?
Based on the answers, it seems sensible to proceed as follows:

  1. In order to hear as many family members as possible about their wishes and thoughts about the future of our foundation, please complete this survey no later than March 1, 2022: https://forms.gle/zAJQvCLqcWkEwGdJ8
  2. A committee is formed of some family members with the task of making a future plan for our family foundation and its activities. This can then be presented to the board and the members for further elaboration. Adrienne has already indicated that she wants to take the lead in this committee. A number of young dogs are currently being sought to help with this. Matters that should be addressed by the committee include:
  • who can become a benefactor of the family foundation in the future?
  • how can young people be more involved in the family foundation and the activities?
  • what is most desirable date and form for family reunions?
  • improve website accessibility and topicality, and focus on other media
  • how do we ensure continuity for the Dutilhiteiten and the family archive?
  • is English increasingly becoming the official language to involve our foreign relatives more or will we stick to Dutch?