Our history

Novamedia, lotteries for a better world  


Nationale Postcode Loterij (Dutch Postcode Lottery) was launched in 1989 to raise money for charity organisations that aim to create a fairer, greener world.

The founders of Nationale Postcode Loterij had worked in the fields of fundraising, publicity and member recruitment. These experiences and the desire to make the world a better place led to the invention of a lottery format that not only focused on sharing the revenue but also on winning together: postcode lotteries.

Founders Boudewijn Poelmann, Frank Leeman, Herman de Jong and Simon Jelsma – the former shareholders in Novamedia – had such faith in the new lottery format that they took the financial risk.

What seems obvious now was far from so at the time. When the lottery was set up, there was a great deal of skepticism and nobody, including the charities, dared to co-finance the initiative. Some charities even did not want to receive contributions.

It’s thanks to the perseverance of the founders that Novamedia kept the faith. Nowadays six lotteries in five countries raise money for good causes. Novamedia is carrying all the risks and expenses associated with getting new Postcode Lotteries off the ground.

In 32 years, players of the Postcode Lotteries and VriendenLoterij have raised a total €12.5 billion for thousands of charities and social organisations worldwide. Novamedia and its Postcode Lotteries has ranked in the world’s top three private charity donors for over a decade. It is named third largest in the world, after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, and second largest in Europe.

Since 2017 all the shares of Novamedia, and the lotteries, are in the hands of a general interest foundation: the Novamedia Foundation Trust. This protects the sale of Novamedia and the intellectual property rights related to the Postcode Lottery format.


Jorun Stiansen and the team travel to Verdalsora.jpg


The history of the brands


Nationale Postcode Loterij was launched in the Netherlands in 1989. The success prompted Novamedia to launch two further lotteries in 2005: Svenska Postkodlotteriet in Sweden and People’s Postcode Lottery in Great Britain.

Deutsche Postcode Lotterie launched in 2016 throughout Germany. In 2018 Norsk Postkodelotteri started in Norway.

In the Netherlands Novamedia operates another lottery: VriendenLoterij, launched in 1998.

In 2014 bookstore Scheltema in Amsterdam was added to Novamedia.

Founders of the Postcode Lottery

Simon Jelsma (1918-2011) was chairman of the Nationale Postcode Loterij (Dutch Postcode Lottery) from 1989 to 2002. He started as a priest and later became known as a passionate preacher and founder of Novib (now: Oxfam Novib). In this capacity, he was one of the people who put development aid in the Netherlands on the map. An idealist, a fighter against injustice and poverty, and an optimist at heart. “Always keep your mind on the goal", was his famous quote.

Boudewijn Poelmann (1949), succeeded Simon Jelsma as chairman from 2002 to 2020. He too worked for Novib. His big wish: a sustainable money flow for charities, which he achieved with the Postcode Lotteries. Founder of Novamedia, the enterprise from which Nationale Postcode Loterij originated. > Read more below

Herman de Jong (1948), Novamedia board member until 2004, financial expert. He also worked at Novib before joining Novamedia. He was the driving force behind the prizes in kind.

Frank Leeman (1949-2018), Novamedia board member until 2013. He was an independent marketing consultant before he became co-founder and later vice-chairman of Nationale Postcode Loterij. With his inexhaustible creativity and his driving commercial power, he inspired many colleagues. He is remembered as 'the body and soul' of the Postcode Lottery.




The founders, from left to right: Boudewijn Poelmann, Frank Leeman, Simon Jelsma, Herman de Jong


In memory: Frank Leeman, co-founder of Nationale Postcode Loterij

Boudewijn Poelmann

Boudewijn Poelmann (1949) founded together with his wife Annemiek Hoogenboom Novamedia in 1983. He is the co-founder of the Dutch Postcode Lottery in 1989. Before setting up Novamedia he worked for Novib as a fund-raiser and member recruiter.

Until March 2020 he acted as ceo and chairman of the boards of Nationale Postcode Loterij, BankGiro Loterij and VriendenLoterij and their parent company Holding Nationale Goede Doelen Loterijen. As of January 1st of 2021, he has stopped his daily work for Novamedia and the Lotteries and co-founded an impact investing fund for scale-ups, called phase2.earth.

In 2006, Poelmann was voted ‘the most influential player in Dutch philanthropy’ by  philanthropy magazine FM and in 2012 was made an Officer of the Order of Oranje-Nassau for his commitment to society in combination with innovative entrepreneurship and leadership. In 2014, magazine Forbes ranked Poelmann 16th in its list of the World’s Top 25 Eco-Innovators.




Boudewijn Poelmann, founder of Novamedia and co-founder of Nationale Postcode Loterij


Our timeline



Children raising funds

On December 20 1989, school children pass through the doors. To sell lottery tickets for a good cause. They collect 300,000 authorizations of 10 guilders. The entire proceeds from this first drawing of Nationale Postcode Loterij goes to refugees. The rest is history.