Two Years of Offering a Hand Up to Individuals Across the U.S.

When Doris Buffett relocated to Boston, her favorite philanthropic initiative—the Letters Program—moved with her.  The Letters Foundation was formally established in fall 2016, with our dedicated team working to expand our reach to individuals across the country.

Doris’ lifelong commitment to individuals, in addition to her kind and practical approach to problem-solving, continue to inform all areas of our giving.  Our mission is to read letters from people across the country facing unforeseen challenges, and help connect them with appropriate resources, offering a hand-up when there is nowhere else to turn.

In two short years, we have read and responded to over 5,000 letters, and granted over $4 million to 380 individuals in just over 700 days.  This means one person has received a life-changing grant every other day since we opened our doors.

We could not have accomplished this without our passionate staff and volunteers.  Our staff has enabled the Foundation to evolve and grow, while remaining true to Doris’ philosophy of giving.  Importantly, our staff has cultivated a cohort of generous volunteers who help us in invaluable ways: from handling administrative tasks, to reading letters, to supporting grant-seeking constituents with their applications, to conducting research into resources for those in need.  We called on the community to help us ensure that Doris and Warren’s dollars were thoughtfully distributed, and solidified a group of more than 50 Boston-based volunteers every week, who are integral to our grantmaking.

Our mission is unique: we direct funds to individuals.  We hope our work inspires the next generation of philanthropists, and groups of people across the country, to dedicate their time, energy and resources to people in their own communities.

We are privileged to be here in Boston, where we have developed partnerships with local nonprofits supporting individuals and families to better serve people in our community.  Through engaging a select cohort of community partners in Greater Boston, we have embarked on a new strategy for grantmaking over the past year that we look forward to sharing with you on our blog next month!

As we celebrate the past two years and look ahead, we are motivated to continue upholding our mandate—Every letter read—and strengthening ties with our community to lift up individuals who write to us.

A snapshot of our giving over the past two years since moving to Boston, from September 1, 2016 to August 15, 2018.