A Fresh Approach to Philanthropy


Rebalancing Power in Philanthropy

Philanthropy has a power problem. Too often, foundations get in the way of nonprofits doing the work they know best. This can slow down progress, perpetuate inefficiency, and obstruct nonprofit growth and innovation. Trust-Based Philanthropy reimagines traditional funder-grantee relationships. We believe our work will be more successful, rewarding, and effective if we approach our work as an ongoing partnership rather than a one-time transaction. We’ve identified six key principles to putting trust-based values into action:


Give Multi-Year, Unrestricted Funding

Unrestricted funding over time is essential for creating healthy, adaptive, effective organizations.

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Do the Homework

Before entering into a grantmaking relationship, the onus of due diligence should be on the grantmaker, not the grantseeker.

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Simplify & Streamline Paperwork

Nonprofit staff spend an inordinate amount of time on funder-imposed paperwork; they will be more effective if they are freed up to concentrate on mission.

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Be Transparent & Responsive

Open, honest, and transparent communication minimizes power imbalances and helps move the work forward.

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Solicit & Act on Feedback

Grantees provide valuable perspective that can help inform a funder’s support and services.

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Offer Support Beyond the Check

Responsive, adaptive non-monetary support can help foster healthier organizations by bolstering leadership and capacity.

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“A deliberate, trust-based approach can liberate foundations from the structures that hold too many of us back.”

— Pia Infante, The Whitman Institute