ABFE History



The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), a national association membership organization that promotes effective and responsive philanthropy in Black communities, was founded in 1971 in Montreal, Canada as a working group and later became an independent membership organization. Founding members organized a like‐minded group of people in philanthropy because they recognized and acted on the urgency to bring diversity and inclusion to, and equity in philanthropy.


The 1970s emerged as an era of intense political conflict, dramatic economic transformation, and pivotal developments in American race relations. Abroad, this era saw the end of the Vietnam War, the beginning of more peaceful relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the recognition of China. As people of color adjusted to their newly won independence, Blacks in the United States adjusted to the dictates of a new political order, shaped by increasing unemployment, “ghettoization” and a shift in the American outlook toward civil rights. | DOWNLOAD >>



Magnified by the nation’s current economic crisis, today, Black communities across the nation are in greater crisis than mainstream communities. High unemployment and home foreclosure rates, disproportionate healthcare, excessive incarceration rates, a widening wealth gap, the daunting achievement gap and the disparity in child and family well‐being are many of the issues facing Black communities. Consider these findings in a study by Rick Cohen, Senior Policy Fellow with Community Service Society:

Grantmaking for minorities has declined as a proportion of grants awarded by the largest 1,000 or so foundations regularly surveyed by the Foundation Center.2 In 1998, 9.9% of the grants of these foundations were designated for ethnic or racial minorities, a proportion that declined to 7.6% in 2004, increased to 8.2% in 2005 and fell again to 7.4% in 2006. For African‐Americans/ Blacks, the proportional decrease has been more significant: 3.8% of these grant dollars went to African‐Americans in 1998, but only 1.9% in 2005 and remarkably only 1.5% in 2006.

ABFE remains active, engaged, relevant and essential in philanthropy today. On behalf of our members and supporters and through our leadership, programs and staff we remain unwavering in being the voice in philanthropy that highlights the urgency of diversity, inclusion and equity in the field toward our mission to promote effective and responsive philanthropy in Black communities.

ABFE is a membership-based philanthropic organization that advocates for responsive and transformative investments in Black communities. Partnering with foundations, nonprofits and individuals, ABFE provides its members with professional development and technical assistance resources that further the philanthropic sector’s connection and responsiveness to issues of equity, diversity and inclusion. Established in 1971 as the Association of Black Foundation Executives, the organization was credited with many of philanthropy’s early gains in diversity. It since has evolved into an influential network. In 2013, the organization shed its descriptor and adopted the simpler ABFE (ab-fee) to better reflect its broadening membership. For more information, visit www.abfe.org.

Source: ABFE Archives, ABFE Communications