International Association of Charities

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Association Internationale des Charités






International Association of Charities






One Sunday in August 1617, during Mass, Saint Vincent de Paul called on his parishioners to help a sick family in great need. Many women responded immediately, visiting the family and bringing them aid.  Marvelling at such generosity, and feeling it necessary to organise this help to make it more effective and long-lasting, Saint Vincent led a first group of women to form a confraternity, with the aim of providing spiritual and material help to those most in need. December 8th 1617 is marked as the official starting date for this first group, which was called the Confraternity of Charity. During his lifetime, Saint Vincent ensured the Charities spread across France and beyond, with the help of Saint Louise de Marillac. The Charities work completely independently in their respective countries, but are closely linked by their common Vincentian heritage. This bond led them to set up a federation to bring the national movements together in 1971 with the founding of the International Association of Charities (AIC). 

Previously recognised by the Holy See, the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed recognition of the Association Internationale des Charités as an international association of the faithful on 15 March 2007. It has consultative status with Ecosoc and UNESCO, and participatory status with the Council of Europe.



AIC is a network of volunteers, mainly women, who work in their local communities to combat poverty in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the USA.

Following the example of St Vincent de Paul, and in accordance with the teachings of the Church, AIC strives to be a transforming presence of Christian inspiration in society, working mainly with women, through projects and development actions in which the beneficiaries are fully involved to combat poverty and exclusion in all its forms.

AIC also collaborates at local and global levels, participating in networks to speak out against injustice and put pressure on civil society structures and decision-makers to eradicate the causes of poverty. 



AIC volunteers are organised in local groups, which in turn belong to national associations. Each national association is its own legal entity, and is responsible for leading and coordinating its local groups, training its members, fundraising and advocacy in its own country.

AIC is recognised as a “legal entity” in civil law, in the form of an international, non-profit making body under Belgian law. 

The AIC International Assembly of Delegates is formed of the Presidents of the full and associate member national associations. It meets every three years to elect the International President and the other Executive Board members. It defines the strategies for the future, called Priority Lines of Action.

The Executive Board is formed of 8-10 AIC volunteers of different nationalities elected by the Assembly of Delegates for a 3-year mandate.  A few permanent invited members attend their meetings. Their overall objective is to support AIC volunteers in their work with people most in need.

The International Secretariat supports the Executive Board in carrying out its mission. 



AIC volunteers at grassroots level work locally to meet real needs on the ground. Projects are mainly in the fields of education, health and social inclusion. Many AIC activities also have an aspect of personal involvement, such as home visits, especially to older people, and visits to hospitals or prisons.

There are currently thousands of activities underway in the countries where AIC is present. These activities are undertaken by local AIC volunteers, in response to the situations of poverty they encounter in their own communities. Seventy percent of AIC’s beneficiaries are women and their children, who are those most commonly affected by poverty and injustice. 



AIC publishes training reflections for its members on a near-monthly basis and aims to regularly send out an electronic newsletter. An international activity report is published every three years.





Association Internationale des Charités, AIC Aisbl

Rampe des Ardennais, 23 

1348 Louvain-la-Neuve


Tel.: +3210456353