FAQs

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    What does the name “NoVo” mean?

    “Novo” is a Latin word that can mean to make anew, refresh, revive, change, alter, invent. It captures the essence of our mission, which is to create a more balanced world by changing social attitudes, relationships, and institutions that perpetuate injustice.

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    Who are Jennifer and Peter Buffett?

    Jennifer and Peter are the Co-Chairs of the foundation; Jennifer also serves as President. Peter Buffett is the youngest son of investor Warren Buffett. Biographical information for Jennifer and Peter is available on our People page.

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    How long has NoVo Foundation been in operation?

    Jennifer and Peter have been active philanthropists since 1997. NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.

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    How does the gift work?

    At the time of the pledge, the gift was worth approximately $1 billion. The pledge was doubled in 2012. Because Warren has made a gift of stock that will be delivered over time, the value of the gift will be determined by the underlying value of those shares, which are delivered in annual installments of 5% of the total remaining shares.

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    Were there any directives of the gift?

    From Warren’s 2006 pledge letter (PDF download):

    “A couple of thoughts (but not directives): Focus the new funds and your energy on a relatively few activities in which NoVo can make an important difference. Concentrate your resources on needs that would not be met without your efforts. Conversely, avoid making small contributions to the multitude of worthwhile activities that have many possible funders and that would likely proceed without your help. Consider working with your siblings on important projects. Pay attention to your home community but favor a broader view. Judge programs by how they fit with your goals and their chances for success, not by who makes the request. Expect to make some mistakes; nothing important will be accomplished if you make only “safe” decisions.”

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    How did NoVo decide what to fund?

    Peter and Jennifer Buffett hold the meaning of the word “philanthropist” (“philo” -the love of, and “anthro” -human beings) as a core value.

    In deciding what to focus on, they wanted to step back, look at the big picture, and address root causes to maximize their philanthropy’s lasting impact. They met with hundreds of thought leaders, and traveled around the globe to observe, listen, and learn. They sought to understand systems and interconnections so as to make catalytic, holistic, and thoughtful funding choices. Strong patterns became clear to them: The world was out of balance and systems were based on domination, competition, and exploitation. They looked for the best ways to support changes that fostered greater collaboration and partnership in all spheres of life.

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    What do you mean by “initiatives”?

    We structure our grantmaking around initiatives rather than “program areas”. These initiatives are varied in form, but all reflect our commitment to building authentic partnerships with grantees and other funders and to taking calculated risks. Each of our initiatives has a specific, planned strategy. The initiatives work toward outcomes we can leverage to move our vision and our goals forward. To this end, we work in ways that we believe our involvement and resources can have real impact. We invest in innovative strategic grantmaking that we hope will lead to societal transformation in the near- and long-term.

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    What does it mean to be “strategic?”

    For us, being strategic means approaching our work thoughtfully and planning with the big picture in mind. Our funding choices are not one-off decisions. We determine courses of action and benchmarks of success with grantees that, over time, can result in the meaningful changes we hope to see realized. This includes deciding which organizations to fund as well as determining what other work and actions we must all take in order to realize change. We want to help build fields and move issues forward.

    We aspire to be a part of creating meaningful, positive, and lasting social change.