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Demystifying Trust-Based Philanthropy

Join GEO virtually during their 6-part webinar series about demystifying trust-based philanthropy.

Event Details

There is a common misperception that trust-based philanthropy is about trusting nonprofits unconditionally. In reality, a trust-based approach uses trust as a gateway to rightsize power imbalances between funders and grantees, in order to facilitate deeper, more transparent relationships. With an intentional priority on relationships over transactions, trust-based philanthropy creates conditions for mutual accountability in the funder-grantee relationship.

To learn more about the entire series, see the descriptions below.

Start: Wednesday, May 31, 12:00 AM Eastern

End: Wednesday, August 2, 5:00 PM Eastern

To register for this webinar series, click here

To watch the first session here

Session 1: Does Trust-Based Philanthropy Mean Unconditional Trust?

In this session, we will clarify the misperception that trust-based philanthropy means unconditional trust, and dig into the nuances of why trust is an important vehicle for more equitable funder-grantee relationships. Speakers will share how they have cultivated (and maintained) trust, how they model and reinforce mutual accountability in a trust-based way, and how they have worked through challenging moments when trust breaks down. Participants can expect to obtain greater clarity on why and how to build trust, and strategies for developing mutually agreed upon expectations for a trust-based funder-grantee relationship.

Watch session recording here.

Session 2: Does Unrestricted Funding Automatically Make a Funder Trust-Based?

There is a misperception that giving unrestricted funding is an automatic qualifier to being a trust-based funder. There is a distinction between the two, and it is possible to give unrestricted funding in a way that is inconsistent with trust-based values. Likewise, it is inaccurate to reduce trust-based philanthropy to unrestricted funding alone. A truly trust-based approach to grantmaking is about being mindful and responsive to grantee needs, and deploying resources in a way that supports their long-term health and success.

In this session, we’ll unpack the difference between unrestricted funding that is deployed in a trust-based way, and what it looks like when it’s not. We’ll also share case studies from funders who have shifted from project-specific to majority unrestricted funding, as well as those who have embedded trust-based values within semi-restricted grants. Participants can expect to gain greater clarity on the philosophy behind unrestricted funding in a trust-based context, and strategies for aligning trust-based values with the way grants are structured and deployed.

Session Date and Time: Thursday, May 11 3-5pm EST. Register here.

Session 3: How Do We Approach Risk and Due Diligence in Trust-Based Philanthropy?

There is a misperception that there is little due diligence conducted in trust-based philanthropy. A trust-based due diligence process does exist – and it encourages funders to reframe how they characterize and react to “risk”— moving from scrutinizing organizations’ budgets and governance, towards a deeper assessment of values-alignment and ways to support organizations’ capacity for impact.

In this session, we will explore the notion of risk – and how to reframe our understanding and analysis of risk to consider the reciprocal nature of the funder-grantee relationship. We’ll hear from funders who have implemented trust-based values and practices in their due diligence process, and have identified ways to bridge the gap between donor/board desires and grantee needs. Participants will gain knowledge around how to assess and respond to potential “risk” with a trust-based lens.

Session Date and Time: Wednesday, May 31, 2023 from 3-5:00 PM EST Register here

Session 4: What Does Grantee Accountability Look Like in Trust-based Philanthropy?

There is a misperception that trust-based philanthropy’s shift away from project-specific grants and lengthy written reports will inherently diminish any sense of accountability from grant recipients. In reality, trust-based philanthropy focuses on creating conditions for mutual accountability between funders and nonprofits, which actually allows for a deeper sense of honesty and transparency than in a traditional context.

This session will explore some of the underlying questions and concerns around accountability in philanthropy, and will offer insights from funders who have benefited from embracing trust-based philanthropy with a lens of mutual accountability. Participants will gain strategies for cultivating a two-way street of accountability in an equitable, trust-based way.

Session Date and Time: Wednesday, June 14, 2023 from 3-5:00 PM EST Register here

Session 5: What Does Evaluation Look Like in a Trust-Based Context?

There is a misperception that trust-based philanthropy is at odds with rigorous impact evaluation because of its focus on relationships over project-specific metrics. Trust-based evaluation is indeed rigorous, but it differs from the sector standard in that it prioritizes a learning stance over a proving stance. This ultimately helps illuminate a more nuanced understanding of the barriers and catalyzers of social change, as well as useful information that can help grantmakers improve their strategies toward advancing impact.

In this session, we will unpack these important nuances and will highlight examples of how grantmakers are relying on rigor and continuous learning to understand impact. Participants can expect to gain a clear understanding of trust-based philanthropy’s three-pronged approach to learning and evaluation, as well as concrete tools they can use to implement in their own work.

Session date and time: Wednesday, July 12, 2023 from 3-5:00 PM EST. Register here

Session 6: What Does Trust-Based Philanthropy Have to Do With Racial Equity? Eastern Time Zone (map)

There are various misunderstandings when it comes to trust-based philanthropy’s interconnection with racial equity. Some critics claim that trust-based philanthropy perpetuates bias because it favors those who already have an “in” with funders. Other interpretations swing in the opposite direction, assuming that embracing trust-based practices is sufficient for advancing racial equity. At its core, trust-based philanthropy begins with understanding power – and acknowledging how race and ethnicity shape our lived experiences and our relationship to power, and therefore perceptions of who is deemed trustworthy and who is not. Therefore, trust-based philanthropy requires a racial equity lens – and can be an effective way to advance racial equity goals – but it is not necessarily a means to advancing racial equity in and of itself.

This session will explore the connection and distinction between the two, and why both should be prioritized for trust-based funders. Participants will gain a deeper knowledge on why and how to explicitly prioritize racial equity in your trust-based practices and values.

Session date and time: Wednesday, August 2, 2023 from 3-5:00 PM EST Register here

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