Howard G. Buffett Foundation: Grants for Security

OVERVIEW: Agriculture and food security are the Buffett Foundation's main focus, but the foundation understands that conflict situations put food security at risk. This thinking motivates the foundation's grantmaking in the unstable Great Lakes area in Africa.

IP TAKE: This funder has an affinity for heavyweight organizations with staffs and doesn't accept unsolicited proposals. 

PROFILE: Established in 1999, the Howard G. Buffet Foundation's primary mission is to "catalyze transformational change, particularly for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations." The foundation invests in three main program areas: food security, conflict mitigation and public safety.  Founded by Nebraskan Howard Buffet, the foundation dedicates itself to keeping small farmers on the cutting edge of agriculture by providing support in best practices and input, which is also tied to water security. Digging irrigation ditches and building grain bins are obvious efforts; less obvious are roads, bridges, and other infrastructure needs. Educational programs for rural communities also are important, whether or not they are directly tied to agriculture or food and food security.

The foundation also makes what it calls "non-strategic investments" that are based on long-standing relationships and tend to support communities where the foundation is already engaged in other ways. This area might be an avenue for environmental, medical, and other operations to tie their activities to the foundation's strategic interests. 

The foundation prefers to work with well-established, large operations. This means that smaller and newer bodies will need to cultivate key personnel. Grants tend to be in the six- and seven-figure range, depending on the scope and urgency of a project. Howard Buffett has written op-ed pieces that demonstrate a concern about food security in the United States and abroad, so U.S.-focused grantseekers should not be discouraged.

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