Partnering in a spirit of service



Our Story 

The seeds for Trust-Based Philanthropy were planted in 2014, when The Whitman Institute used the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s Grantee Perception Report to invite feedback to inform the foundation’s spend-down strategy.

Two major themes emerged: 1) the importance of relationships based on trust; and 2) a resounding request for the foundation to advocate for this trust-based approach.

Recognizing that many of the core principles of their approach were not necessarily new, but rather rarely practiced holistically, TWI came up with the overarching frame of Trust-Based Philanthropy. This approach to philanthropic leadership invites funders to embody a set of trust-based principles.

This framing has prompted growing interest from foundations to adopt, and advocate for, a trust-based approach. As such, in 2018 the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the Headwaters Foundation formally joined The Whitman Institute to co-conceptualize a collaborative effort to to advance Trust-Based Philanthropy sector-wide.


Founding Members


The Whitman Institute

The Whitman Institute advances social, political, and economic equity by funding dialogue, relationship building, and inclusive leadership. 


Robert Sterling Clark Foundation

The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation is a private foundation committed to helping create a vibrant New York City – one that is strong, healthy, livable and just. 


Headwaters Foundation

The Headwaters Foundation’s mission is to work side-by-side Western Montanans to improve the health of our communities. Our vision is a western Montana where all people, especially the most vulnerable among us, are healthy and thriving.


Funder Allies

The trust-based movement is growing! The following foundations are part of our network of dedicated funders that practice and advocate for Trust-Based Philanthropy:


“Trust-Based Philanthropy breaks down the traditional power dynamic between funder and grantee. It creates a collaborative environment that supports listening, learning, and the ability to be nimble.”

— Brenda Solorzano, Headwaters Foundation