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, and empowering staff to build trust-based relationships with grantee partners.

Board members also hold a number of fiduciary duties according to the law: 1) the duty of care, which is about actively participating and doing what they can to advance the mission of the organization; 2) the duty of loyalty, which requires them to put the foundation’s interests ahead of their own; and 3) the duty of obedience, i.e., making sure the foundation is complying with the law.

Much like how trust-based philanthropy advocates for funders to partner in a spirit of service to grantee partners, it equally encourages boards to see their role as partners — both to the foundation’s leadership and to its staff. This can be embodied in seven key ways that invite a more trust-based, meaningful, and joyful approach to serving on a foundation board