History

Two decades ago, a group of trustees and executives from foundations with few or no staff saw an opportunity to unite for the development of their craft. Gathering at a conference under a handwritten sign reading “Are you alone with millions?” they met, talked, listened, and took the bold step to form what became the Association of Small Foundations (ASF).

It quickly grew to be the nation’s largest philanthropy membership association and earned a strong reputation for quality programming, practical information, and a place where funders could connect and share knowledge and experiences.

In 2012, the association undertook an in-depth strategic planning process, which resulted in our strategic framework of Guide, Connect, & Champion. The process also suggested a powerful way to define our members—not in quantitative terms – but by the qualitative traits that describe their philanthropy: lean, agile, responsive, passionate, and personal.

We also recognized an opportunity to support all philanthropists who share these traits, regardless of the vehicles (or combination of vehicles) through which they give. In March 2014, to welcome and celebrate all funders who practice lean philanthropy and the outsized impact many of them are having in virtually all communities and on all issue areas, we changed our name to Exponent Philanthropy.

In 2016, we celebrated our 20th Anniversary. This celebration included special programming, a blog series that showcased the impact we have had on our members’ philanthropy, and three inaugural Outsized Impact Awards. View our 20th Anniversary commemoration booklet.