SAFSF envisions a world in which food and agricultural systems enhance and sustain the well-being of people, animals, and our planet—now and into the future. SAFSF’s mission is to create networking, education, and collaboration opportunities for the philanthropic community working to support vibrant, healthy, and just food and farm systems. SAFSF’s work is rooted in the values of Collaboration, Equity, Respect, Stewardship, and Integrity.
collaboration •the action of working with someone to produce or create something
The food system is too big and complex for any one individual, organization, or political entity to change. We must work in partnership with others. No matter what aspect of the food system our members fund, some amount of their success relies on parts of other systems—social, economic, educational, and/or political—also shifting. We need each other. By facilitating connections between funders, organizing events, and offering educational opportunities, we create the space for more collaborative processes to develop.
equity •fairness and justice in the way people are treated
We strongly believe that all lives are improved when there is a focus on equity. We want to help create a society that is fair and just in the way people are treated. To date, much of the funding for food system change has gone to predominantly white, middle- to upper-income class communities. We believe that if we are to have food and agricultural systems that enhance and sustain the well-being of people, animals, and our planet, then we must always consider the impacts on those who have been most marginalized by the industrial food system. Those communities are often rural and/or communities of color that too often have been sidelined. These communities bring rich traditions of connection to the land, and their histories and cultures and are an untapped resource and backdrop for mobilizing a new generation of leaders.
All people, animals, and the planet must be treated with respect. There are many sources of knowledge, perspectives, strategies, and approaches active in creating and sustaining a vibrant, healthy, and just food system for all. Without respect, we cannot get to a place of trust; and without trust, we cannot have meaningful collaboration. By honoring each other, the natural world, and ourselves we can work together to develop a better food system.
stewardship •the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving
Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. We believe in protecting and caring for the resources entrusted to each of us, whether those resources be farmland, financial wealth, or anything else. Practicing stewardship requires us to look carefully at distribution of power and rewards in larger systems.
To SAFSF, integrity refers to consistency in actions and values as well as the state of being whole. An ecosystem’s balance is disturbed when parts of the system are missing. Our success as a network—and the success of the food movement more broadly—in building a healthy and just food system for all depends on our interconnections, honesty, and working with integrity.
2.0 BENEFITS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF SAFSF MEMBERSHIP
The following are benefits and responsibilities of membership in SAFSF.
Networking, knowledge-sharing and collaboration with SAFSF peers.
Member Directory including issues funded
Special member-only calls and activities.
Discounted registration fees for SAFSF forums and events.
Access to an audience of other funders and NGOs.
Ability to help shape the SAFSF agenda and work plan.
Eligibility to participate on the Steering Committee.
Contribute to SAFSF’s mission of cultivating sustainable food and agriculture systems.
Share perspectives and expertise with SAFSF colleagues.
Provide financial support for SAFSF, its programs and initiatives.
Conduct outreach to other potential funders, speakers, and resources.
Members may not use their participation in SAFSF for promotional purposes or for private gain.
3.0 SAFSF MEMBERSHIP
The goal of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders is to provide networking and educational opportunities for a wide range of grantmakers. Participation in events and committees is open to all staff and board members of grantmaking institutions. The active involvement of our members helps us in our work to create a vibrant, healthy food system. To receive an application please contact SAFSF staff.
SAFSF acknowledges the following categories of funders eligible for membership: government, individuals, private, corporate, community and non-profit intermediaries or regranting organizations. Individual members must be donors themselves but may delegate a proxy to participate in SAFSF events.
We welcome as members those organizations and individuals that:
Function primarily as grantmakers, not grantseekers or consultants. (It is acknowledged that some current members are operating foundations that also raise funds to support their grantmaking programs.)
Distribute a minimum of $20,000 per year in grants or donations (not restricted to sustainable agriculture and food systems).
Grant to sustainable agriculture and food systems projects and programs and related efforts. Related efforts might include: land preservation, pesticide use reduction, food security, health, water, nutrition, migration, farm worker justice, climate change, global trade policies, biodiversity, and so forth.
Share SAFSF’s goal of increasing funding for sustainable agriculture and food system organizations.
Share a commitment to the network’s mission and values.
Show an interest in enhancing the reputation of, and expanding opportunities for, SAFSF.
Support relationship-building, knowledge-sharing and collaborative enterprise within the organization’s framework.
Please note: SAFSF reserves the right to deny membership or remove a member if an applicant or member’s actions reflect poorly on the field and might harm SAFSF’s reputation. Lawsuits, federal or state investigations, consumer boycotts or other significant actions against an applicant, member or affiliated organization would raise such concern. The decision to deny membership or remove a member from SAFSF shall be made in accordance with the procedures described in protocols 3.3 and 3.4.
Recommended levels of support are assessed based on total grant making for sustainable agriculture and food system programs and initiatives in the last full fiscal year. Fees may be paid in annual dues, as an annual grant and/or as special support for particular activities, as long as the giving totals fall within the ranges stated below. The intent of such fees is to ensure the commitment of members, provide continuing financial sustainability for SAFSF, encourage greater participation by funders, and to reduce the inefficiencies associated with ad hoc yearly fundraising.
Suggested fees (Approved December 2006. Reaffirmed January 2009, January 2015):
Total Annual SAFSF-related Giving
Range of Fees
*Note for small funders: annual dues will be determined following a personal conversation with the applicant(s).
All grant makers interested in SAFSF membership are asked to complete a membership application. The information provided therein helps SAFSF to build and maintain an accurate snapshot and understanding of the breadth and depth of our members’ work. The information is intended to facilitate our ability to provide members with links to one another based on real data. Information about members’ funding practices and interests is not released to the public.
Those interested are encouraged to contact staff for a preliminary conversation and to receive the formal application form. Information requested includes:
Reason for Joining: (a check list which includes: networking, learn more about the field, connections to other issues, contribute to the learning and explore potential funding collaborations.)
Annual Report: (if one is published) hard copy or URL for link to website
Grant Guidelines: a copy of organization’s grant guidelines and/or a statement outlining the organization’s goals. A URL link to where the guidelines can be found on the organizational website is sufficient.
Recent Grants: a listing of the organization’s most recent 2-3 years of grants relevant to sustainable agriculture or food systems. Again, a link to URL listing is sufficient.
All applications are pre-screened by the SAFSF Executive Director, and then reviewed by the Membership Committee. A recommendation for membership is then submitted to the Steering Committee for final approval. SAFSF reserves the right to request additional information from applicants.
An applicant for SAFSF membership may be denied membership if the Steering Committee, in its sole discretion, determines that the applicant’s actions reflect poorly on the field and might harm the reputation of SAFSF. Such a decision will be made in good faith utilizing the consensus and voting procedures described in protocol 5.1. Written notice of the Steering Committee’s action to approve or deny membership will be promptly provided to an applicant at the address provided in the application.
SAFSF reviews membership applications 4-times yearly. Review dates are January 15th, April 15th, July 15th, and October 15th.
A member may be removed from SAFSF membership, if the Steering Committee, in its sole discretion, determines that the member’s actions reflect poorly on the field and might harm the reputation of SAFSF. Such a decision will be made in good faith utilizing the consensus and voting procedures described in protocol 5.1.
Notice of the Steering Committee’s action to remove a member, including a statement of the reason for removal, will be delivered at least fifteen days before the removal is to become effective by email to the most recent email address provided by said member to the Executive Director. The member will also be notified of the opportunity to be heard orally or in writing by the Steering Committee not less than five days before the effective date of the removal.
Any annual membership fees paid by a removed member will be pro-rated to reflect the number of weeks of membership before the effective date of removal, with the remainder to be returned minus a 20% administration fee.
4.0 SAFSF GOVERNANCE
The Steering Committee is the primary governance structure for SAFSF. The SAFSF Steering Committee may have up to thirteen (13) members. The Steering Committee will be responsible for SAFSF’s programming, finances, staff supervision and general operation. This leadership body will be comprised of committed grant makers seeking to develop SAFSF into a stronger and more influential organization and to fulfill its mission. It will be a diverse group of stakeholders representing broadly the interests, organizations and institutions active in the field. Membership will represent grant makers of varying size, geographic distribution and constituency and areas of interest.
Committee members must devote time, energy and resources to furthering SAFSF’s mission and values of developing sustainable food and agriculture systems.
Committee members must be trustees, executives, individual donors or experienced program officers of a grant making organization working in the field.
Committee members must represent an organization that has been affiliated with SAFSF for at least two years.
Desirable candidates will have experience on other boards, a working knowledge of food system issues and both the resources and the willingness to fundraise in support of SAFSF’s activities.
Committee members may be chosen based on personal characteristics that are judged to benefit the organization.
Although the number of board members may vary, the membership total is designed to allow for effective governance.
Terms of service are for three years. Steering committee members may serve up to two consecutive terms.
Under normal circumstances, members are expected to pay for their own travel and accommodations for Steering Committee meetings and events.
All SAFSF members are encouraged to take an active interest and to participate in the leadership of the organization.
The Steering Committee as a whole serves as a nominating committee for incoming members. The co-chairs will contact the candidate and indicate the Committee’s interest in having the person serve and provide information about responsibilities and start and end date of term of service.
Otherwise, the co-chairs in consultation with the Executive Director and full Steering Committee will identify a short list of potential new members. Recruiters will be selected to approach candidates with an agreed upon sequence of who is asked first, second, etc. Any member of the Steering Committee or the Executive Director may be designated as a recruiter.
New Steering Committee members will be ratified at the annual meeting, with their terms beginning officially on either January 1 or July 1 of a given year.
The Steering Committee will have co-chairs serving rotating terms of two years. A new co-chair will be selected by the Steering Committee prior to the end of the calendar year. Responsibilities include:
Provide leadership to SC and membership.
Serve as the immediate support for the executive director in terms of executing the workplan, developing the yearly budget, and advising on policy matters.
Conduct annual performance reviews of staff and provide written materials for personnel file to fiscal sponsor.
Chair all meetings of the SAFSF steering committee in tandem with executive director.
Lead SC in development of SAFSF goals, priorities, and protocols.
Serve as public spokespersons at SAFSF events and meetings in tandem with executive director.
The primary decision-making body, as noted above, for SAFSF membership, protocols, strategy and work plans is the Steering Committee. The SAFSF Executive Director is accountable to the Steering Committee for executing strategy, work plans, and other direction. SAFSF’s Steering Committee will make decisions by consensus.
The SAFSF does not intend nor will replace, substitute for or supplant the individual decision-making authorities and processes of each participating organization. It is recognized that members will and may pursue activities, strategies and tactics outside of SAFSF activities on issues related to sustainable agriculture and food systems.
The Steering Committee will operate by consensus. Granting “consent” means that each Committee member can live with the decision and support its implementation. Consensus also means that the process of decision-making will be inclusive, transparent, reasoned and strive to accommodate the interests of all.
Along with the right to offer consent or express dissent as a member comes the responsibility of making clear the reasons for dissent and making every effort to offer an alternative proposal satisfactory to other participants. Members should remain in the conversation during deliberations to hear the full discussions in order to make informed judgments when decision-making occurs.
Members may also choose to:
Abstain from that particular decision;
Not to consent on a decision but to stand aside without offering dissent; or
Register their disagreement but, in the spirit of the larger collaboration and progress, agree not to stand in the way.
In order to ensure that SAFSF can act in a timely manner, a member’s absence will be equivalent to abstaining in a decision unless the absence is noted beforehand to the executive director and a particular decision is asked to be deferred.
To ensure transparency, the Steering Committee will strive to make decisions only on issues included and noticed in meeting agendas distributed ahead of meetings and decision-making calls.
If consensus cannot be reached, all participants will seek in good faith to find alternatives that satisfy the greatest number of participants and interests possible. As a rule, formal votes will not be taken except where an impasse exists. In such cases, the Steering Committee will use a simple majority vote, with each Steering Committee member having one vote, in order to move SAFSF forward, except in the case that the decision is to exclude an applicant or current member. In the case of a decision to exclude an applicant or member, the Steering Committee will use a two-thirds (supermajority) vote should they not be able to reach consensus on the decision before them.
Decisions will be recorded in one or more formats.
In the meeting or call summaries, preferably at the beginning of such summaries in a separate section entitled “Decisions Reached.”
In formal resolutions that are written and dated with the names of members consenting duly noted.
In final documents such as protocols, work plans and budgets, with the approval date noted.
For those members who are not part of the Steering Committee, significant changes or additions to policies, strategies, protocols, financing and other important matters will be shared with all members by the Steering Committee prior to final decision-making. The Steering Committee will generate drafts of key documents or decisions and circulate those to all members for comment with a date certain for return. Those comments will be organized and summarized by the Executive Director to the Steering Committee in writing prior to making any final decision.
6.0 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The SAFSF Executive Director is accountable to the Steering Committee. The Executive Director is responsible for:
Providing information to the funder network via the SAFSF listserv, website and other means;
Encouraging and facilitating funder collaboration, including with other funder affinity groups;
Serving to facilitate efforts to provide strategic information to funders regarding how to build and strengthen NGO efforts and leadership on sustainable agriculture and food systems issues
Planning and facilitating meetings and conference calls;
Coordinating outreach activities for members and non-members;
Fundraising and grant reporting; and
Reporting to and working with the Steering Committee.
7.0 MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
In order to ensure effective and on-going communication, the Executive Director will arrange for and maintain the following:
E-mail distribution lists of members, interested others and affinity group participants;
Shared calendar of events, workshops and meetings;
Meeting summaries and action items; and
SAFSF website (as clearinghouse for information).
Meeting summaries of decisions, action items, next steps or listing of key issues will be prepared for each conference call or meeting. The meeting summary will be distributed in draft form to those in attendance for review and approval. Meeting summaries will generally not attribute statements by individuals or organizations. In order to encourage open, frank and informal dialogue, meetings will not be tape-recorded or videotaped. Notice of calls and meetings will be made by notifying participants via email.
8.0 DISPUTE RESOLUTION
In the highly unlikely event that a critical issue or issues cannot be resolved by the Steering Committee and that an impasse substantially threatens the work and membership of the SAFSF, the Steering Committee will:
Identify and clarify the issue or issues at impasse;
Seek an agreed upon, independent, external party to assist the Steering Committee in overcoming the impasse. That party may be a highly trusted and respected retired individual, an individual held in high esteem by members and/or a professional mediator.
Participate in a dispute resolution process, within an established time frame, with the external party noted above, in a good faith in an effort to bridge differences and overcome the impasse.