News Post

Top 10 moments in FBB history

18 May 2019

by FBB Staff

May 18th, 2019: ten years ago today Foundation Beyond Belief was incorporated in a little town (er, huge suburb) called Alpharetta, Georgia. Founder Dale McGowan knew nonbelievers had the potential to change the world in a big way by working together, and for ten years we have done just that (and more), now under the vision of his successor Noelle George.

Take a look below at the Top Ten Moments in FBB History.

10. May 18, 2009: Incorporation

What had been an idea became an actual organization… sort of. It wasn’t until August, when we received a $10,000 grant from the Institute for Humanist Studies, that we were able to build a website and hire part-time staff.

9. Jan 1, 2010: Full launch!

We announced the initial slate of beneficiaries and began receiving actual donations. Our first quarter raised just over $12,000 in grants and on April 2, 2010 alarge feature in the New York Times put our experiment in humanist philanthropy on the map. We’ve since distributed over $1.3 million through the Humanist Grantsprogram.

8. March 11, 2011: Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami


The Tōhoku tsunami in Japan made clear the immediate need for a disaster response program. We vetted a beneficiary and launched an appeal, quickly raising and distributing $20,000 for recovery. Eight years later FBB’s Humanist Disaster Recovery program includes grantmaking and on-the-ground volunteer teams. In the spring of 2015 we raised over $75,000 in response to the Nepal Earthquake, giving grants to three organizations. In the fall of 2017, FBB raised almost $150,000 for hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma. Our first HDR deployment was in Columbia, SC (2016). Since then FBB volunteers have done disaster recovery in Louisiana (2017),Houston (2018), and a partner deployment with Secular Student Alliance to Puerto Rico (2019).

7. August 2011: A Network Was Born

Houston-based SECULAR Center USA (founded by Noelle) merged with FBB to create Volunteers Beyond Belief, a national network of humanist volunteer teams at work in their communities. Starting with only five teams, the program later developed into the Beyond Belief Network (BBN) and grew to the 125 teams in the network today. In early 2019 FBB announced a partnership with the Atheist Community of Austin to expand BBN even further, allowing us to provide greater support to the teams who really need it and helping teams get started in service.

6. June 2012: We Lit the Night

FBB partnered with the Stiefel family and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation to create a national team in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, raising over $300,000 in 2012 alone. We raised $1 million over three years and helped fund breakthroughs in lymphoma research.

5. June 2013-June 2014: We Struck Our Path.

HA: Ghana Team Spring 2017

FBB launched Pathfinders Project to select a location for the Humanist Action: Ghana. Four Pathfinders Project volunteers travelled the world practicing responsible humanist service while working with grassroots organizations. After the conclusion of Pathfinders, the HA: Ghana program launched in the Northern region of Ghana, where volunteers spent two years helping women accused of witchcraft. In just a few months, the 2019-2020 HA: Ghana volunteers will begin their work with organizations in Cape Coast, Ghana.

4. July 2014: Humanism Worked (It Still Does!)

FBB held its Humanism at Work Conference in Chicago, IL. Among the weekend’s many great moments, we were proud to recognize the individual and BBN team winners of our second annual Heart of Humanism Awards. Individual awards were given to Hemley Gonzalez from Responsible Charity (Heart of Humanism), Conor Robinson for his work in spearheading the Pathfinders Project (Humanist Visionary), and Seráh Blain for her Blistering at the Margins project (Humanist Innovator of the Year).

3. October 2014: FBB Was Compassionate.

FBB featured its very first Compassionate Impact Grant (CIG) beneficiary: Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) in Boston, MA. FBB typically distributes donations among four Humanist Grants charities each quarter. During one quarter each year, we consolidate all donations into one larger grant for the organization selected to receive the competitive CIG award. We’ve had the opportunity to work with some extraordinary charities through the CIG program. In fact, we are now reviewing applications to select our next CIG beneficiary!

2 . June 1, 2015: The Baton Was Passed.

Noelle George assumed the executive directorship of FBB from founder Dale McGowan in an almost completely bloodless transfer of power (in Dale’s own tongue-in-cheek words). Each of the programs begun during Dale’s role as ED has grown and transformed over the past four years, just as FBB itself grows with Noelle’s vision.

1. May 18, 2019: We Celebrate You.


FBB celebrates its 10th anniversary thanks to the indomitable spirit of the humanists who support us and the work we do.

Let's make history! Donate today!


Become a monthly donor today and we can achieve even more!

Get updates via

Forgot password

Reset password email has been sent.
Please check your inbox.

Cancel Membership

Are you sure that you want to cancel your giving to Foundation Beyond Belief?

Currently Giving