Observed: new label for Charity organizations

Design: unknown

The brandmarks of the Dutch charity foundations (approximately 20,000) are often characterized by colorful hands, houses, human figures and artistic script letters. This is not the case for the labels that have to ensure the good intentions of these organizations. Recently (May 20, 2010) a new player entered the charitable market, the Hallmark ‘Keurmerk Goede Doelen’. The label resembles a traffic sign that correspond with it’s competitor, CBF. But what exactly is the distinctive character of a label?

A trademark is a sign with which the sender notifies himself as an owner, manufacturer or sender of a message (1). In the case of a label, it is a brand or trademark from a reliable source, associated with the quality rating of a product or service (third party). Consider the use of seals in antiquity (sign of legality, personality or secrecy)(2). The use of a wax seal is not an everyday activity anymore, but the visual representation is still practized: a round shape with typography (preferably in capitals) and a solid color (red/orange). A check mark (V) or thumbs-up (OK) is also used, but comes across as a cheap alternative. High Security Paper often employs a watermark or a complex layout of repeating patterns.

The design of this new label (KGD) is indeed compact and reminiscent of a stamp, but not very original and sophisticated. It lacks a ‘smart’ initial and the color reminds me of the VVD (Political Party for Freedom and Democracy). Why not use green to emphasize the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) claims or will this be confused with the practice of the environmental sector? This could be a question for the designer…

The reliability of the label (or certificate) is important for both the consumer and the supplier, in this case the charity organizations. We all want our money (4 billion per year) to be spend efficiently. The chairman of the KGD, Bart Hartman, believes it’s time for charities to be judged on their performance. Ex-minister Bert Koenders has supported the launch of the new brand. In my opinion, they’re welcome, as long as the KGB doesn’t come knocking at my door.

CBF (application | review | annual) 5,350 euro, 2,690 euro, 410 – 8,125 euro
KGD (annual) 400 euro
KGB (annual) 600 euro


Marks of Excellence, Per Mollerup (1)
Spectrum Opzoekboek Symbolen, Hans Biedermann (2)

Labels for Charity Organizations

Online comparison of Charity Organizations

Catalogue of labels

Consumer guide for labels

Marketing tips for charity

‘New Label already controversial’ Joop Bouma (Viceversa, journal on development)