Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation: Grants for Global Health

OVERVIEW: Backed by Warren Buffett and named after his late wife, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (STBF) is the top private funder of sexual and reproductive health and rights work worldwide. You'd hardly know it, though. As tight-lipped as it is generous, STBF manages to keep an astonishingly low profile. 

IP TAKE: Since there is no grant application process, grantseekers will have to be creative, here. Connecting with STBF program staff is your best bet. 

PROFILE: Susan Thompson Buffett, wife to multi-billionaire Warren Buffett, died in 2004. In her honor, Susan's husband renamed the foundation they directed together since the 1960s, and the Buffett Foundation became the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. Susan Buffett left around $2.5 billion to the foundation, and in 2006, Warren Buffett pledged billions more (over time) to the foundation. In a recent year, STBF awarded a half-billion dollars in grants, mostly to support sexual and reproductive health and rights in the U.S. and abroad.

Despite its financial clout, the STBF does not brand itself as a large philanthropic organization. The foundation's website is simply dedicated to teacher awards programs and scholarship opportunities for students attending public universities in Nebraska, both minor slices of the foundation's grantmaking. In fact, its site avoids any mention of its philanthropic focuses or its extensive sexual and reproductive rights work, which spans the world and focuses significant attention on Latin America, Mexico, South America, and Africa. The foundation tends to prioritize large nonprofit organizations that work within the sexual and reproductive health and rights field on a global scale. In the past, the STBF has funded organizations like Ipas, International Planned Parenthood, and the WHO.

While STBF does award grants in the millions of dollars, most tend to range from $100,000 to $500,000. Despite the scope of its grantmaking, STBF has no transparent, public mechanism through which NGOs can apply for support. But if you can get in the door, STBF has the financial capacity to support even the most ambitious projects. 


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