Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) amplifies the impact of philanthropic and investment communities in support of just and sustainable food and agriculture systems.
SAFSF is a vibrant and growing affinity group (also known as a philanthropic support organization) for philanthropic grantmakers and mission-based investors that have an interest in just and sustainable food and agriculture systems. Our organizational members include community and corporate foundations, private foundations, government agencies, health conversion foundations, investment organizations, individual donors and investors, and more. SAFSF members make investments at local, regional, state, Tribal, national, and international levels to support activities and strategies related to justice, farms and farming systems, environmental sustainability, markets, health, agricultural products, and much more within the food system.
SAFSF’s programming and work is guided by our strategic agenda. Our vision, mission, and values define who we are. They provide the fundamental structure for the organization. They guide our actions and our behaviors. They influence the way we work within the organization and with others.
The vision, mission, and values, described below in detail, were developed through a process of reflection with the SAFSF staff and Steering Committee (current and former), and with additional input from SAFSF members. The purpose of rewriting our existing vision, mission, and values is to make more explicit our long-standing commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion and do a better, more concise, and clearer job of communicating our work.
The 21st century food movement has the opportunity and, we believe, the responsibility, to include and engage the full range of people and communities in moving forward. Equity work requires planning, commitment and continual reflection. It is multifaceted and, to be effective, involves “walking the talk,” changing the self as well as the system. It is controversial. Equity work is about fundamental change, which is often vigorously resisted. Those who benefit from the way society is currently organized, or who are unaware of the pervasiveness of discrimination, or who are simply comfortable with the status quo, are often reluctant to contemplate new ways of doing things.For SAFSF this work is not optional—it is essential and must be woven into the strategic plans and life of our organization as well as the whole of the good food movement. We believe SAFSF can play a valuable role in fostering the philanthropic leadership that is critical to bring together the individual and collective ideas and resources to ensure a vibrant, healthy, and just food system for all. While this is often hard and uncertain, SAFSF strives to approach the work with a sense of joy by building relationships, embracing diverse ideas and voices, and appreciating that solutions and reform only come about when there is a collective sense of inclusion.
All resources invested in food and agriculture systems enhance our collective well-being.
We amplify the impact of philanthropic and investment communities in support of just and sustainable food and agriculture systems.
Our strategy is to harness the power of our membership and community by:
• strengthening connections among philanthropy, investors, and government agencies at all levels;
• fostering collaboration, which can be topical, geographical, and/or policy-oriented in focus; and
• building capacity of the philanthropic and impact investing sectors through advocacy and education.
Values drive our organization on an everyday basis. We use these values to guide our decision-making process in all our work, from developing programs and hiring new staff to choosing caterers and hotels. We are committed to seeing these values embedded in everything we do. The word “sustainable” is part of our name; it encompasses environmental, economic, and social concerns, and we feel a sustainable future must incorporate all of these values:
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.
respect •to hold in esteem or honor 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.
integrity •the state of being whole and undivided 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.