Partnering in a spirit of service



Our Story 

The seeds for the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project were planted in 2014, when The Whitman Institute (TWI) got important feedback from their grantees: beyond grantmaking dollars, the way that TWI showed up made a big difference in the overall health and well-being of their nonprofit partners. The grantees’ advice to TWI? As the foundation approached spend-down, they should actively work to share their lessons with the philanthropic field in order to help it become more inclusive, more impactful, and more authentic to everyone involved.

Building on the approach that TWI built, in 2018 the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the Headwaters Foundation formally joined TWI to co-conceptualize a collaborative effort that invites others in the sector to embody trust-based principles.

Today, the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project includes a growing community of funders committed to making the ecosystem of philanthropy one that is trust-based, and examining the structural and relational conditions necessary for that ecosystem to:

  • Center equity, humility and transparency

  • Recognize the power imbalance between funders and grantees, and work to actively rebalance it

  • Deeply value the quality of relationships, and honor the how we treat others on the path to winning on our issues, as much as the act of winning itself.


If your foundation is interested in learning more about adopting or advocating for trust-based philanthropy, please get in touch!


“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