Trust-based Philanthropy

About this collection: Whether you’re a long-time practitioner or are just considering adopting this approach, we hope these resources will help you bring trust-based principles into practice.

NCFP’s Content Partner, the Trust-based Philanthropy Project, builds and curates tools and resources to engage grantmakers around ways to embody a trust-based approach, and why it matters. Below you’ll find a selection of their specialized how-to guides and templates to use and adapt. For additional guides and resources, including recordings from past presentations, sample policies, and resources from partners in the field, please visit their resource page.

Please also see the NCFP Content Collection on Power Dynamics in Family Philanthropy for additional information and resources.
Interested in learning more about this topic alongside your peers? Consider signing up for a current or future cohort of NCFP’s Trust-Based Philanthropy Learning & Action Lab.

NCFP Webinars and Community Perspectives

October 6, 2020

Trust-based Family Philanthropy

Trust-based philanthropy is being embraced by a growing number of family foundations as a way to alleviate power imbalances between funders and grantees while fostering more productive and informative relationships. Driven by the central philosophy that funders should approach grantee relationships as learning partnerships, a trust-based approach encourages multi-year unrestricted…
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Embracing a More Holistic Approach for Greater Impact

Blog Post
In 2015, I stepped away from the field of education and dove into the world of philanthropy. Previously, I had been principal of Fenger High School on Chicago’s South Side. My experience with funders had been exclusively on the receiving end; my team at Fenger and I worked hard to…

Trust-Based Philanthropy: Shifting Power to Communities

Blog Post
This article was originally published by Citi GPS: Global Perspectives & Solutions and is re-posted here with permission. Philanthropy is a complicated pursuit. Donors are committed to supporting their grantees to advance social progress, yet they hold a disproportionate amount of power, and operate within an inherently inequitable system that…

Guides and How-tos

Trust-Based Philanthropy At-A-Glance

This 2-page overview provides the overarching context for trust-based philanthropy, descriptions and rationale for the six interrelated principles, recommended steps you can take, and the benefits you will see. This introductory primer will be most relevant to foundation leadership, trustees, and staff. It can be used as a general reference…

Legal Considerations of Trust-Based Philanthropy

Oftentimes in philanthropy, we tend to think of legal considerations in the context of compliance and risk mitigation — i.e., preventing things from going wrong and protecting funders from liability or harm. As a result, foundations that are curious about trust-based philanthropy may have questions about its legal compliance and…

7 Responsibilities of A Trust-Based Board

Trust-based philanthropy invites foundation board members to recognize their critically important role in upholding and modeling an organization’s culture and values. When board members embrace this as their main role in a trust-based context, it opens up tremendous potential for building and sustaining a culture of trust, alleviating power imbalances,…

Trust-Based Philanthropy Self-Reflection Tool

Trust-based philanthropy is a holistic approach that requires alignment in a grantmaking organization’s four interrelated areas: 1) practice, 2) leadership, 3) culture, and 4) values. This tool is designed to help funders at various stages of the trust-based journey examine how trust shows up across your organization, and identify areas…

How to Do A Trust-Based Grantee Meeting

How can funders approach grantee check-in meetings to foster productive relationships and glean important insights, all while proactively alleviating power imbalances? And how can we consider grantee check-ins  as an alternate approach to reporting? This funder-specific tool offers a checklist of trust-based considerations before, during, and after grantee check-in meetings.

Additional Reading on Trust-Based Philanthropy in Action

The Strategic Value of Trust-Based Philanthropy (Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2024)

Five Questions We Should Be Asking About Trust-Based Philanthropy (Inside Philanthropy, 2024)

Three Ways to Operationalize Trust-Based Philanthropy Practices (PEAK Grantmaking, 2022)

The Compton Foundation’s Trust-Based Approach to Spending Out (Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, 2022)

How Hill-Snowdon Became More Creative, Responsive, and Trust-based (Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, 2022)

For Weissberg Foundation, Trust-Based Philanthropy Starts With Internal Culture-Building (Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, 2022)

Invitation Only: Closing the Door to Equity? Perspectives from the Durfee Foundation (Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, 2022)

How Claneil Foundation Puts Relationships into Practice (Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, 2022)

What Satterberg is Learning After Shifting to Multi-Year Unrestricted Grants (Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, 2022)

How General Service Foundation’s Radical Shifts Are Sparking Greater Efficiency and Learning (Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, 2022)