The Pioneer Network of Foundations

Networking was a concept virtually unheard of in the 1970s. It was particularly alien to non-government organizations in the Philippines, at least, until the Association of Foundations (AF) came to be.

Established in November 1972, AF is the country’s first network of non-government organizations (NGOs). Its mission is to enable its member foundations to develop sustainable programs that serve their communities.

Through the years, AF has become a bridge to grant opportunities, capacity builder, data bank, consultant, and an advocate of key issues. It is committed to the constant growth and professionalism of its member foundations in their efforts to improve the quality of human life.

AF is the most experienced federation of foundations in the country, and perhaps the most heterogeneous in membership. Its well over one hundred member foundations come from all over the Philippines—from highly urbanized Metro Manila to the northernmost province of Batanes to the southern island of Mindanao. These foundations are involved in education, science and technology, health, art and culture, governance, social development and other special interests such as environment and micro-finance. The AF membership includes leading non-profit institutions, corporate foundations, and even small organizations based in remote rural areas. Such diversity is a clear reflection of AF’s pluralism, its multi-cause orientation being one of its main strengths and constant challenge as well.

In its early years, AF operated primarily as a clearinghouse of information among foundations. It also initiated the accreditation of member foundations in order to maintain the highest standards of integrity at a time when foundations lacked the esteem they deserved.

AF became the venue where people and foundations with expertise in specific fields shared their knowledge and experiences with those who were smaller or newer. With this, the National Science Development Board looked at AF member foundations as the dedicated few aiming for credibility in the highest degree.

As a result, AF also operated as an advocacy body dedicated to fostering a deeper public understanding of foundations as institutions of nation-building. It published the first-ever Philippine Directory of Foundations in 1974, followed by a four-volume edition in 1979 and subsequent updates backed by an electronic databank in 1990 and 1996.

In the late 70s, the role of AF expanded to include fund sourcing to ensure the survival of its member foundations. It was also at this time that AF actively lobbied for issues such as tax incentives and other policies that threatened to stifle the growth of non-government organizations. AF was determined to establish itself as a partner of government in the task of national building.

In the decade following the EDSA Revolution in 1986, AF mobilized a total of P25 Million for 45 projects nationwide. It put together the Philippine-Canadian Human Resource Development Program which prioritized capability building among member foundations. In 1992, AF hosted and managed the United Nations Development Programme Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme. AF also became a founding member of the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC), Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO), the National Coordinating Council on Local Government (NCC-LG), and the Federation of People’s Sustainable Development Cooperatives. In the same year, the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF), which advocates philanthropy among business corporations in the Philippines, began as a sub-sector of AF. Its international affiliations include involvement in the Asia-Pacific Advisory Forum of CIVICUS, a world alliance of civil society organizations. Today, AF is the only umbrella organization of Philippine foundations recognized by the Council on Foundations (USA).

After nearly 3 decades of trailblazing work, AF has truly made an impression on government and non- government institutions, in the Philippines and around the world.

Historical Timeline

1972 The Association of Foundations is established as the first network of NGOs 
1974 Publishes the first Philippine Directory of Foundations
1978     Influences shelving of a proposed taxation decree on foundations with an Open Letter to the President in the major newspapers
1980     Acts as the Philippine intermediary in the overseas grant making activities of the  Japan Center for International Exchange
1986     Becomes a founding member of the Philippine Development Assistance Program (PDAP)
1987  Signs a Joint Declaration of Purposes and Principles of Development providing the framework for NGO-GO collaboration
1990       Collaborates with Phildhrra to conduct the first series of regional environment  workshops for NGOs in the country
1991 Leads project “ Nationwide Mechanism for NGO/PO Selection and Representation in Local Special Bodies”, funded by the USAID- PBSP Local Development Assistance Programme (LDAP)
1992         Hosts and manages the United Nations Development Programme Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (UNDP GEF-SGP)
1993       Facilitates creation of League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) as a sub-sector
1994  Launches a project “Promoting Local Initiatives for Democracy and Justice “ (PRODEM) with four other NGOs to strengthen public-private sector partnership in local governance and co-management of the development process
1997  With CODE-NGO publishes NGOs in a New Arena, a book providing reflections on managing fund mechanisms for development
1998 Together with 5 other networks, creates the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC)
2000 Publishes “Donor Trends: A Resource Book of Development Assistance in the Philippines”
2001 Publishes “Philippine NGOs: A Resource Book of Social Development NGOs”. Establishes website and electronic databank
2002 Publishes “Mga Kuwentong AF: Stories 30 Years After”
2002 Establishes the Philippine Foundation Center (PFC)
2004 Publishes “What You Should Know About a Community Foundation”
2005 Publishes “Good News for the Poor: Diaspora Philanthropy by Filipinos”
2005 Publishes “Philippine NGOs in the 21st Century: Searching for Renewed Relevance”
2006 Publishes “The Community Foundation Handbook”
2007 Manages the small grants facility NGO Strengthening Assistance Mechanism or NSAM