The history of Hivos is closely linked to humanism, an ideology that puts people and human values at the heart of everything. Humanism does not appeal to a superhuman or supernatural power or force. About two million people in the Netherlands, from all walks of life, seem to recognise this basic premise.
The contemporary Dutch humanist movement originated in 1945 when the organisation Humanitas and the Dutch Humanist League (1946) were founded. These organisations, together with the Vereniging Weezenkas, were involved in the founding of the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries in the 1960s. On 5 January 1968 Hivos officially began with development projects in developing countries.
In its forty-year history the work of Hivos has always been guided by humanist values. Joining forces with others is crucial to the work of Hivos. Nationally and internationally, Hivos cooperates with many partner organisations throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. It maintains relationships with various organisations in the Netherlands and other European countries, and it belongs to a number of national and international networks.
The core of the work of Hivos lies in its cooperation with over 800 partner organisations in 30 developing countries including Bolivia, Zimbabwe, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. In 2007 as much as 92 percent of the total Hivos budget was allocated to projects of partner organisations. This amounted to 92.1 million euros in 2007.