Application Deadline: Trust-Based Philanthropy Learning and Action Cohort

About the Cohort

The National Center for Family Philanthropy and the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project are pleased to announce a six-part Learning and Action Cohort for family foundations interested in leveraging their philanthropy toward a more just and equitable nonprofit sector. At its core, trust-based philanthropy is about addressing power imbalances and shifting our culture and practices so that nonprofits have the time, space, and support they need in order to advance their work.

This Learning and Action Cohort will take place from July through September 2023 and is specifically designed for executives and trustees of family foundations who are ready to embrace and/or deepen their commitment to trust-based practices and operationalize a more equity-aware, trust-based culture within their organizations. As such, the curriculum for this cohort will include an exploration of trust-based culture, values, leadership, and governance; opportunities to cultivate power-consciousness and humility in leadership practices; case studies from organizations that have fully operationalized the six interrelated trust-based grantmaking practices; peer coaching and peer learning with others on the trust-based journey; and a chance to identify and implement action steps to bring about practical, positive, and timely changes within your family’s philanthropy.

The curriculum will be broken out into six virtual sessions from July through September.  Sessions will be 2 hours long, including time for small cohort breakouts. Cohort members will be assigned to a peer group that will also have opportunities for self-organized meetings between sessions. This program has limited availability, so interested participants are encouraged to apply early. Applications open on March 6, 2023 and close May 31, 2023. Applications are accepted on a first come, first served basis with preference given to NCFP members; we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible.

You may apply as an individual and are also strongly encouraged to apply with additional family member(s), advisors or senior staff members from your philanthropy. Please complete one separate application form for each applicant, and indicate on the form that you are applying as part of a family group.

Submit Your Application Here

Learning Session Dates and Descriptions: July through September 2023

All sessions times are currently scheduled to take place from 9–11am Pacific / 12–2pm Eastern

  • Tuesday, July 11: The Purpose, Values, and Culture of Trust-Based Philanthropy
  • Tuesday, July 25: Trust-Based Leadership & Governance
  • Tuesday, August 8: Understanding Impact in a Trust-Based Context
  • Tuesday, September 12: Operationalizing Multiyear Unrestricted Funding
  • Tuesday, September 26 IN-PERSON (Chicago): Operationalizing Doing the Homework and Streamlined Paperwork & Operationalizing Transparency, Feedback, Support Beyond the Check


Each Learning Session and Action Cohort is expected to run for approximately 2 hours, except for the Action Cohorts, which are small discussion groups made up of four peers or colleagues, will meet between each Learning Session, as individual schedules allow.

Please see below for draft titles and session descriptions. NOTE: These may shift based on the interests and needs of individuals selected to participate in the cohort.


Session #1: The Purpose, Values, and Culture of Trust-Based Philanthropy – July 11, 2023

The practices of trust-based philanthropy are rooted in power-consciousness, a commitment to learning and growth, and a recognition that the change we seek to address relies on the expertise of those who are closest to the issues at hand. This requires us to acknowledge that our sector has inadvertently contributed to racial inequity, both in the way wealth has been accumulated and in the way its dissemination has been controlled. While the scale of inequity may be overwhelming to grasp, trust-based philanthropy offers a clear set of values and practices designed to alleviate these power imbalances and advance the success and impact of our nonprofit partners.

Session #2: Trust-Based Leadership & Governance – July 25, 2023

What does it look like to embody trust-based values and principles as a philanthropic leader? How can we lean on our values and share our power in service of a stronger and more effective nonprofit ecosystem? This session will provide an opportunity to explore the ethos of what it means to be a trust-based leader, tactics for building trust among staff and board, and clarity on how to lead from values.

Session #3: Understanding Impact in a Trust-Based Context – August 8, 2023

When it comes to making grants, many funders lead with questions about impact and outcomes. This inclination generally comes from a place of wanting to prove that your grants are “making a difference” or determining whether or not you should keep funding a particular project or organization. However, being an effective grantmaker requires us to take a few steps back and examine our understanding of how change happens. Specifically: What is it that you hope to achieve as a result of your grantmaking? How can you best position your grantees to achieve their intended impact? Without these big picture reflections, funders run the risk of maintaining an overly narrow view of impact, which inadvertently perpetuates power imbalances and distracts us from a bigger picture perspective. A trust-based model advocates for a learning mindset, where we prioritize long-term relationships with grantee partners to learn about and bolster their impact over time

Session #4: Operationalizing Multiyear Unrestricted Funding – September 12, 2023

This session will set the stage for a deeper exploration of the six interrelated practices of trust-based philanthropy and will offer space for participants to discuss and learn about different ways to embrace one of its cornerstone practices: multiyear unrestricted funding. We’ll explore the frequently asked questions that come up with these and related practices.

Session #5: Operationalizing Doing the Homework and Streamlined Paperwork – September 26 IN-PERSON (Chicago)

Trust-based philanthropy embraces a learning mindset, wherein we replace burdensome, transactional paperwork processes with opportunities for genuine learning and exchange. This takes different forms in different foundations, depending on your issue focus, team size, and learning goals. In this session we’ll dive deep into different ways to reduce the paperwork burden on your grantee partners while still getting the information you need.

Session #6: Operationalizing Transparency, Feedback, Support Beyond the Check – September 26 IN-PERSON (Chicago)

What does it look like to operationalize humility and transparency? The final three grantmaking practices—be transparent and responsive, solicit and act on feedback, and offer support beyond the check—are fundamentally about how we show up as funders and partners. These practices, representing much of the ethos of trust-based philanthropy, reinforces the model’s focus on values and culture. In this session we’ll explore a range of ways to operationalize humility and transparency in your giving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should attend?

The Trust-based Family Philanthropy Learning and Action Cohort is a peer-based learning cohort for donors, board members, and senior staff in family philanthropy who share a deep commitment to finding immediate ways to apply trust-based philanthropy concepts to the management, governance, and grantmaking practices of their giving strategies. Organizations that are considering implementing trust-based practices and/or actively working on implementing and/or deepening the practices are encouraged to apply. Please note this cohort is not for those looking for an introduction to trust-based philanthropy and/or trust-based practices. Current NCFP members will receive priority registration.

Applicants will be accepted and notified on a first-come-first-serve basis pending review of individual applications by NCFP. This initial cohort will be limited to 30 individuals, after which registrants will be placed on a waitlist.

How do I register?

  • There is a two-step process:

(1) Before you register, please complete an application. This will allow us to verify eligibility and address any questions you may have on your application.

(2) Upon notification of acceptance you will receive an email with instructions on how to register for the program, including payment of the registration fee.

  • The application deadline is May 31, 2023; however please note that applications are accepted on a first come, first served basis with preference given to NCFP members; we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible.
  • Applicants will be notified of their acceptance on a rolling basis, and no later than June 15, 2023.

What should I expect in the evaluation of my application?

Applications will be approved based on pre-established factors including:

  • Ability to commit to an intensive, peer-based hybrid program
  • Demonstrated commitment to operationalizing the principles of trust-based philanthropy
  • Demonstrated ability to advocate or influence the creation or expansion of trust-based governance, grantmaking, and management practices within your philanthropy.
  • Geographic and racial diversity across the program

When will I know if my application is accepted?

Applicants will be notified of their acceptance from NCFP on a rolling basis and no later than June 15, 2023. Upon acceptance, applicants will receive instructions to help them register for this program.

May I apply as part of a group from my family/foundation?

Yes, while you may apply individually, you are strongly encouraged to apply with additional family member(s), advisors or senior staff members. Please complete one separate application form for each applicant, and indicate on the form that you are applying as part of a family group.

How much does it cost to participate?

For this six-session offering, the non-member registration fee is $2,000. Members of the National Center for Family Philanthropy may register at a discounted rate of $1500.

What if I can no longer attend the program? Is there a transfer policy for this event?

The deadline for cancellation refunds is June 30, 2023. After this date, no refunds can be issued. Cancellations from paying registrants are subject to a $250 processing fee. All cancellations MUST be submitted in writing and emailed to Individuals who need to cancel that are able to transfer their registration to another eligible attendee will not have a cancellation fee applied. The substitution deadline is June 30, 2023.

Featured Speakers

Liz Bonner headshot

Elizabeth Snowdon Bonner

Elizabeth Snowdon Bonner (Liz) is President of the Board of the Hill-Snowdon Foundation, a family foundation…

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Mailee Walker

Mailee became executive director of the Claneil Foundation in 2007. Prior to joining the Claneil Foundation,…

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Shaady Salehi

Shaady Salehi is the director of the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, a 5-year learning and advocacy initiative to make…

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Additional questions? Contact NCFP