If you’ve supported a charitable organization for years, and perhaps even served on its board of directors, you are likely familiar with the basic concepts of “trust-based philanthropy,” even if you’ve never heard the term.
As a devoted supporter of nonprofits you love, you know an organization’s greatest chance of success happens when its leadership and staff can deploy resources in ways they believe will best fulfill the mission. This translates into nonprofits placing a high value on “unrestricted” donations, meaning the organization can use the dollars in whatever way it sees fit.
An example of why unrestricted dollars matter, grossly oversimplified to illustrate the point, is when a donor writes a check to a food bank and instructs the money be used to purchase canned goods. Meanwhile the food pantry’s leadership knows what they really need is to fix the roof or hire a staff member to help sort food before the pantry will be in a position to accept more canned goods.
Unrestricted gifts are only one component of trust-based philanthropy. The broader model is designed to increase the impact of philanthropy by encouraging collaboration, communication, and information-sharing among stakeholders, including not only donors and the nonprofits they support, but the community as a whole. The fundamentals of trust-based philanthropy make sense, such as listening to community stakeholders and reducing the administrative burdens on nonprofit organizations who receive funding.
Trust-based philanthropy is nothing new to the Community Foundation. In many ways, the work of the Foundation already embodies these principles:
- deeply understanding the needs of the community
- building relationships across all stakeholders
- helping donors maximize the impact of their charitable giving
- establishing permanent support for the community to address future needs
- connecting donors more deeply to the causes they care about through personal service and education, and
- leading through critical community issues.
We are grateful for our trust-based community of supporters.