Trust-Based Philanthropy in 4D Webinar Series

Thursday, May 05, 2022
10 - 11:30am PST

In follow-up to the 2021 Summer Series on Trust-Based Philanthropy, this new webinar series offers a framework for being proactive in building trust across the various dimensions of a grantmaking organization, regardless of your starting point. In this webinar series, we will break down each of the four dimensions – culture, structure, leadership and practices – spotlight case stories by practicing foundation leaders from across the country, and offer concrete steps you can take to apply these concepts within the context of your grantmaking organization. 

Grantmakers of Oregon and SW Washington has joined other PSO organizations to present this series around Trust-Based Philanthropy. Each session will include a 60-minute panel discussion , followed by a 30-minute facilitated breakout discussion for GOSW members. While we recommend attending all four sessions for an optimal experience, each individual session will be designed to stand on its own.

Session 1: Using Trust-Based Values to Transform Your Grantmaking

Thursday, February 3, 2022 from 10-11:30AM PT

There is a values-to-practice gap in traditional philanthropy. Many foundations do their work in the name of building community, advancing equity, and increasing opportunity – however our sector’s most common grantmaking practices rarely reflect those values. Project-restricted grants, unclear grant guidelines, lengthy paperwork requirements, and unrealistic impact measures have come to be the status quo in our sector, with little regard for the expertise of the nonprofits we support. Not only does this perpetuate a top-down power dynamic that makes it virtually impossible to build trust and transparency; it also obstructs nonprofits’ ability to innovate, grow, and achieve their intended impact.

Trust-based philanthropy offers a different approach, applying equity-centered, power-conscious values in the way we approach all aspects of grantmaking. This translates to leading with trust rather than distrust, respecting the time and expertise of nonprofit partners, and prioritizing relationship-building and mutual learning over scrutiny and transaction. 

In this session, we will explore the core values that are fundamental to a trust-based approach, and the six grantmaking practices that help advance a healthier and more equitable nonprofit sector: 1) multiyear unrestricted funding, 2) doing the homework, 3) simplifying and streamlining paperwork, 4) being transparent and responsive, 5) soliciting and acting on feedback, and 6) offering support beyond the check. We’ll hear concrete examples from foundation leaders that have operationalized these practices, as they share the details of transformation, their learnings along the way, and their approach to bringing along staff and boards on this journey.

Participants can expect to walk away with a clear understanding of what it means to be a values-aligned grantmaker, persuasive talking points to help engage staff and boards, and concrete steps they can take toward operationalizing trust-based grantmaking practices.

Session #2: Embracing and Embedding a Trust-Based CultureThursday,

March 3, 2022 from 10-11:30AM PT

Culture is an organization’s general way of being, expressed in organizational norms, assumptions, and behaviors. Given trust-based philanthropy’s values-driven stance on centering relationships and sharing power, nurturing a trust-based culture is essential to making your trust-based philanthropy possible.

In order to nurture a trust-based culture, we must understand our starting point. The majority of institutions operate within a white dominant cultural context, wherein perceptions of trustworthiness and achievement are skewed in favor of those who have had access to – and have assimilated to – white dominant norms. In this default culture, we also tend to prioritize wealth over the communities we serve – as indicated in commonly used phrases such as return on investment, proof of concept, and even program “officer.”

So how can funders identify – and undo – cultural barriers to trust and equity? And what does it look like to build a trust-based, racially equitable culture that prioritizes honesty, community, creativity, and joy within and beyond your organization? In this session, we’ll hear from leaders that have prioritized culture-building within their organizations, including the strategies they are deploying to foster a sense of connection and collaboration, and what they’re doing to build and sustain trust internally so that they can advance their trust-based goals externally.

Participants can expect to walk away with a clearer understanding of how white dominant culture shows up in our assumptions and norms; and strategies for initiating and deepening a culture of power consciousness, humility, and collaboration.


The series is free to GOSW members and are 90 – minute sessions. We have built in time for you to share your thoughts and reflections with other GOSW members during each session.



Session #3: Building and Reinforcing Trust-Based StructuresThursday,

March 31, 2022 from 10-11:30AM PT

An organization’s structures — the hierarchies, systems, protocols, policies, standardized processes, and technologies — are deeply connected to culture and values. Because of the compliance-oriented culture that informs much of philanthropy, even the best-intentioned grantmaking organizations may find that their structures and processes inadvertently perpetuate power imbalances, obstructing their ability to fully operationalize trust-based philanthropy.

A full commitment to trust-based philanthropy requires funders to take a close look at our various structural elements through a trust-based lens – especially grant management systems, grant agreements, hiring practices, evaluation metrics, and decision-making structures. The good news is that these concrete aspects of your operations can be addressed one-by-one, in an emergent way, without overwhelming or overloading your organization.

So what are the core competencies we must rely on in order to be able to identify structural barriers to trust-based philanthropy in the first place? And what are some practical, actionable ways we can reimagine these structures to be more relational and grantee-centric, without disrupting our day-to-day work? In this session, foundation leaders will share their journeys of reviewing and assessing specific structures within their organizations and how they are using emergent learning to iterate and evolve their systems and processes in order to create an infrastructure of trust.

Participants can expect to walk away with a better sense of how power dynamics show up in organizational structures, and heightened clarity on areas of focus and reassessment within their organizations.

Session #4: Cultivating Trust-Based Leadership

Thursday, May 5, 2022 from 10-11:30AM PT

An organization’s leadership team plays a key role in upholding and reinforcing values and culture—not just by what is said, but what is done. For this reason, trust-based philanthropy is most successful when there is buy-in and modeling from leadership. In a trust-based context, leaders strive to be collaborative and facilitative, focused on lifting up the whole team and building trust internally rather than consolidating power and influence at the trustee level. Most importantly, they lead by embodying values of humility, equity, and transparency — with a willingness to give up some of their power in service of the organization’s greater purpose.

So what does this tangibly mean for leaders at various roles within an organization? And how can a foundation’s CEO and board work to intentionally build trust among one another while upholding and reinforcing a trust-based culture? In this final session of the 4D series, we will hear from practitioners who have embraced self-reflective practices to cultivate their own trust-based leadership, as well as what they’re doing to reimagine their roles and their trustees’ roles toward advancing a more intentional trust-based culture within their organizations.

Participants can expect to walk away with a clearer understanding of what it means to be a trust-based leader; tools for taking a coaching stance to uplift, guide, and support teams; and strategies for reimagining board leadership to support your organization’s big-picture vision for trust-based philanthropy.