Trust-Based Philanthropy: Where Your Values Spark Change

Aug 04, 2023

Understanding Trust-Based Philanthropy

Philanthropy has been evolving over the years, with various trends shaping how donors give and how their funds are used. One of the most significant trends in recent times is the shift towards trust-based philanthropy. This model of giving emphasizes the importance of trusting the organizations and communities that donors invest in, leading to more impactful and sustainable outcomes.

trust-based philanthropy

How Trust-Based Philanthropy Works

Unlike traditional philanthropy, where donors often have strict requirements and controls over how their funds are used, trust-based philanthropy gives grantees the freedom to use funds as they see fit. This approach is based on the belief that those closest to the issues are best equipped to decide how resources should be allocated. It is about empowering organizations and communities, trusting them to use their knowledge and expertise to make the most significant impact.

Benefits of Trust-Based Philanthropy

Trust-based philanthropy has several benefits that make it an attractive model for donors. Firstly, it fosters stronger relationships between donors and grantees. By placing trust in the organizations they fund, donors can build deeper, more meaningful partnerships based on mutual respect and shared goals.

philanthropy benefits

Increased Efficiency

Secondly, trust-based philanthropy can lead to increased efficiency. When organizations are free to use funds as they see fit, they can respond more quickly and effectively to changing circumstances. This flexibility allows them to adapt and innovate, leading to better outcomes for the communities they serve.

Greater Impact

Finally, by trusting organizations to do what they know best, donors can achieve greater impact. This approach recognizes that those on the ground have the knowledge and expertise to make the most significant difference. In turn, this can lead to more sustainable and lasting change.

Challenges of Trust-Based Philanthropy

Despite its benefits, trust-based philanthropy also has its challenges. One of the main concerns is accountability. Without strict controls and reporting requirements, there is a risk that funds may not be used effectively or efficiently. However, this risk can be mitigated through open communication, regular check-ins, and a shared commitment to achieving impact.

philanthropy challenges

Championing Change: Major Charities Embracing Trust-Based Philanthropy

  1. Skoll Foundation: A trailblazer in the world of Trust-Based Philanthropy, the Skoll Foundation empowers social entrepreneurs with unrestricted funding and personalized support. By focusing on systemic change, they create lasting impacts on global issues such as climate change, healthcare, and economic inequality.
  2. NoVo Foundation: The NoVo Foundation places a strong emphasis on listening to and learning from their grantees. Their emphasis on promoting gender equality, social justice, and holistic well-being is guided by the experiences and wisdom of the communities they serve.
  3. Open Society Foundations: With a commitment to defending human rights and democratic governance, the Open Society Foundations employ Trust-Based Philanthropy to support grassroots organizations in advocating for justice, accountability, and equality.
  4. Global Fund for Women: By providing flexible funding and resources to women-led organizations, the Global Fund for Women is at the forefront of driving gender equality and women's rights movements worldwide.
  5. #StartSmall: Jack Dorsey, the visionary mind behind Twitter and Square, has channeled his passion for positive change into the creation of the #StartSmall Fund. As a philanthropic trailblazer, Dorsey envisions a world where immediate and effective action drives social transformation. The #StartSmall Fund stands as a testament to his commitment, focusing on rapid-response initiatives that address pressing global challenges. #StartSmall funds partners working in global crisis relief, girls' health and education, and efforts towards Universal Basic Income (UBI).


In conclusion, trust-based philanthropy is a powerful model of giving that can lead to more impactful and sustainable outcomes. By trusting and empowering organizations and communities, donors can build stronger partnerships, increase efficiency, and achieve greater impact. While there are challenges to this approach, they can be overcome with open communication and a shared commitment to making a difference. As the trend towards trust-based philanthropy continues, it will be interesting to see how it shapes the future of giving.