American Friends Service Committee

  • Religion
  • 1917

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the prospect of a military draft troubled American Quakers who were religiously principled pacifists. To support conscientious objectors and find alternative ways that they could serve the nation amidst the national mobilization, they formed the American Friends Service Committee. Quakers drove ambulances, did medical duty, and served stateside.

Long known for their philanthropy, the Quaker churches also sent volunteers to Europe to aid civilians disrupted by the fighting. And at the conclusion of the war Herbert Hoover asked the AFSC to help distribute food in Germany. The Friends took similar roles during World War II, and the Quakers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 in recognition of AFSC’s service and donations across Europe during the three decades of warring.

The group has become extensively involved in “peace and social justice” advocacy over the decades. Private contributions and bequests have always fueled the organization, and continued to make up 99 percent of its 2014 budget of $32 million.