Our Rich History… Our Exciting Future.
The Funeral Service Foundation has evolved and adapted to best serve the changing needs of the profession since 1932. Our current funding structure is based on the establishment of our Hand-in-Hand Endowment, which promises that we will make an impact for generations to come by funding projects and programs that support all of funeral service in building meaningful relationships in the community. 1932 – Leaders in the profession, led by Wilbur M. Krieger, realized the need to establish a national organization that focused on improving mortuary management. 1945 – The National Foundation of Funeral Service (NFFS) was established as an educational trust and headquartered in northern Illinois. 1945-1997 NFFS was the only full-time center for continuing education for funeral service in the world. Over 6,000 alumni attended the fully-accredited Foundation courses. Over the decades, the Foundation built the Beryl L. Boyer Library, which served as the most complete library on funeral service in the world. 1978 – The Foundation established the National Research and Information Center (NRIC) to produce objective research that focused directly on funeral service. NRIC produced two landmark research projects: Attitudes toward Death and Funerals, conducted by Northwestern University, and Project Understanding, conducted by Notre Dame University. These studies demonstrated to
the public the profession’s effort and concern for meeting consumer needs. 1997 – As a result of the highly successful research projects, the NFFS Board of Trustees voted to realign the Foundation’s mission from improving mortuary management to advancing professionalism in funeral service and enhancing public knowledge and understanding through education and research. As such, NFFS transformed into the Funeral Service Educational Foundation (FSEF). While remaining a separate entity, FSEF moved its headquarters and the Beryl L. Boyer Library to Brookfield, Wisconsin and merged operations with the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the largest funeral service organization in the world. This strategic move gave FSEF more administrative power and the resources to serve even more funeral service professionals. 2001 – NFFS launched its website as a national resource for funeral service professionals and consumers. In that year, NFFS established the Children’s Fund, which continues to provide grants to national programs that provide education, support and comfort to grieving children and their families. 2002 – Recognizing the Children’s Fund’s impact and the evolving needs of the profession, the FSEF Board of Trustees elected to make a strategic move away from an education-based mission and focused on becoming the unifying voice that represents funeral service’s compassion, generosity and care. This mission shift was the beginning of the Funeral Service Foundation in our current form as a public grant-making organization. The Hand-in-Hand Endowment was established as our primary funding source, and promises that the Foundation will be funded in perpetuity to serve the deathcare profession.
2003 – With the Endowment growing, the Funeral Service Foundation sunsetted all former FSEF educational programs, and focused on becoming the profession’s philanthropic voice. 2004 –The Foundation awarded our first academic scholarships to students of funeral service enrolled in mortuary science programs at ABSFE-accredited schools. 2004-2005 – In the midst of the Southeast Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, the Foundation answered a need within the profession to become a conduit for funding (as needed) that directly supports communities in crisis. 2006 – The Hand-in-Hand Endowment reached $4 million with the generous of support of 150+ contributors, and the Foundation began to make grants available from the Endowment’s mature funds. 2014 – Today, the Hand-in-Hand Endowment has grown to over $6 million and the Funeral Service Foundation remains the primary philanthropic voice for the profession. Support at all levels allows the Foundation to meet our mission to fund projects and programs that support all of funeral service in building meaningful relationships in the community.