Meet Association of Foundations, born 41 years ago
MANILA, Philippines—The Association of Foundations (AF) has served its 126 members in a variety of ways—networking, gaining or sharing capabilities, and building capacities.
But more importantly, AF is the glue that holds the member-foundations together, making sure its members are consistently communicating with one another, particularly when it comes to charitable causes and programs.
“Our mandate is to help our members build capacity, so they can better deliver their respective programs. It then becomes our members’ mandate to help the community they serve. It’s an indirect way of helping out the community,” says AF executive director Norman Jiao.
In more ways than one, AF is the backbone of these foundations. Its members include foundations from huge soda companies to mall chains; from those who advocate health and education, down to municipal foundations that cater to the youth and providing livelihood.
Through its 41 years of existence in the country, AF has maintained a low profile, choosing instead to push its members to become more visible in doing their charity work. Off the stage, AF continues to support its members.
“Our members have asked us, as a network of foundations, to be more visible, so we can share the good that we have done,” says Jiao, who was been with AF since 1999.
Someone pointed out to Jiao that, with more visibility, legitimacy is pronounced. But while the public may not read much about AF in the papers, this does not negate the good that the association has set out to do.
AF started out as a feeding house of information for nonstock and nonprofit organizations, way before corporate social responsibility came into vogue.
The association had less than 10 members when it was founded, but it quickly grew over the years.
AF accepts all kinds of nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and foundations, maintaining a “heterogeneous network.” AF has 71 members in the National Capital Region, 17 in Luzon, 19 in Visayas, and 19 in Mindanao.
“The smaller foundations go to AF to build their capabilities. For the larger, more established ones, it’s to share, to assist and help other members,” Jiao says.
In line with the group’s slogan “Building Foundations, Building a Better Future,” AF has established a mentoring program where it pairs up the foundations that need help with those that are willing and able to assist.
As a service to all foundations, even nonmembers, AF has compiled a directory of more than 1,000 nongovernment organizations on its website (www.afonline.org), complete with contact information.
AF helped set up the League of Corporate Foundation (LCF), as well as the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC), counting these as some of the network’s biggest achievements, Jiao says.
Despite the humongous task AF faces on a daily basis, the organization continues to maintain a lean and mean team with only five paid staffers, including Jiao himself.
“We consider ourselves very lucky. Not all foundations get to have regular staffers who receive monetary benefits. Most foundations have volunteers or project-based crew,” he explains.
“AF will always be at the forefront of good governance practices, legitimacy and credibility—things that aren’t tangible, but are there,” Jiao says.