Howard G. Buffett Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: The Howard G. Buffett Foundation awards millions in grants annually to organizations that address agriculture as it relates to food security, conflict mitigation, and worthy international causes. 

IP TAKE: Securing funding from Buffett can be challenging since it does not accept unsolicited grant applications or requests for funding. It also does not announce regular calls for proposals. Grantseekers can contact foundation staff and coordinate with them about project ideas.

PROFILE: Though his father Warren receives a good deal of attention regarding his philanthropy, Howard G. Buffet is a celebrated philanthropist in his own right. Established in 1999, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation seeks to catalyze "[t]ransformational change," particularly for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations. The foundation views its resources as "[r]are risk capital that can be deployed to improve conditions and create change in the most difficult circumstances and geographies." The foundation's key priorities are food security, conflict mitigation, and public safety.  

Through its food security grantmaking, the foundation takes a conservation-based approach to farming practices and focuses on resource development for smallholder farmers in least developed countries. In 2015, Buffett integrated its water security work into its food security program. As a result, it appears to award a small number of grants to water-related work through this portfolio.

The foundation also believes that "[c]onflict remains a key barrier to achieving global food security." To mitigate conflict, the foundation seeks to create opportunities to "[b]ring an end to active conflicts or improve the conditions that fuel conflict" and to "[s]upport communities that have been devastated by conflict." 

The Buffett Foundation also awards several domestic grants, but its biggest projects remain those that are international. Buffett awards millions to the U.N. World Food Program each year. However, several NGOs with charitable operations abroad also receive substantial Buffett backing.  

Most internationally focused Buffett grantees are U.S. non-profits, foreign NGOs, or universities working on development, socio-political, and environmental issues in Latin America and Africa. A small portion of the foundation’s grantmaking referred to as non-strategic investments, support projects that do not fit quite neatly into its stated giving priorities. To better capture Buffett's giving tendencies, take a look at its latest report, which is updated annually. 

Note that the foundation does not award grants for general operating support.


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