NGO: American Friends Service Committee

“Quaker values in action”

AFSC is an American faith-based organization carrying out both short-term relief activities and long-term development programs worldwide.

Mission & core values:  AFSC is a practical expression of the religious values of the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends), targeting poverty, injustice and war, both at home and abroad.  AFSC is motivated by a spiritual framework and belief in the essential divinity of every person. AFSC aims to transform society – through love and non-violence – in order to protect “that which is precious in human beings.”

History: Founded in 1917 as an outlet for Quaker pacifist convictions (“conscientious dissent”).  First campaign was war-time refugee assistance in France – focusing on children, maternal care, reconstruction.  AFSC played a role in evacuating people from Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, helped children during the Spanish Civil War, as well as victims of WWII bombing in London.  These efforts in both wars earned AFSC the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 (shared with their British counterparts).

Where do they work?  After the initial relief focus on post-war Europe, AFSC increased the range of its beneficiaries, including post-partition refugees in South Asia, Arab refugees in the Gaza strip, victims of the Korean War and the Nigerian Biafra conflict. They now have offices and carry out programs on all continents.

What do they do?  In the early decades, AFSC focused mainly on conflict-response and the provision of immediate humanitarian aid.  In the 1950’s, it expanded its activities to include preventive strategies addressing the causes of war and conflict.  Activities now cover social and technical assistance programs, peace-building/conflict prevention, trade reform and immigration issues, among others.

Who are their partners?  Though a Quaker organization, AFSC is open to the participation of anyone who shares its spiritual understanding of human dignity.  Its external partners include like-minded local groups in the targeted regions, as well as relevant international bodies.  Through the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), the organization has been granted General Consultative Status by UN-ECOSOC, with corresponding offices in New York and Geneva.

How are they funded?  Of the ca. $35 million total revenue in 2002 (most recent data available), 37% came from individual donations, 27% from bequests, 16% from government and foundation grants, 13% from investment income, 4% from gifts in kind, with the remaining 3% from miscellaneous sources.  AFSC has 501(c)3 status.

How are funds used?  31% of 2002 revenues went to international programs, 25% to community relations, 16% to peace education, 13% to fundraising, 8% to general management, and 6% to special programs.

Recent developments & outlook:  In addition to relief for recent crises in areas such as Iraq and South-east Asia, AFSC is also active in the USA on issues such as the death penalty, legalization of migrant workers, tax reform, homelessness, LGBT rights, and the support of Native Hawai’ian communities.

University of Hawaii at Manoa; Center of Excellence in DMHA; ICRC

Contact Information

Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
2424 Maile Way, Saunders Hall 118
Honolulu, HI 96822