The following are excerpts from a brief by Philanthropy Together. Philanthropy Together is a global initiative co-created by giving circle and collective giving network leaders to help start new giving circles and existing circles thrive. In 2021 Impact100 Metro Denver received a $1,000 award from Philanthropy Together in support of our D.E.I. work. 

Trust-based philanthropy is the methodology developed by the Trust-Based Philanthropy project—a five-year, peer-to-peer funder initiative to address the inherent power imbalances between foundations and nonprofits.  Though not typical foundations, giving circles should also embed these principles to redistribute power in service of a more equitable nonprofit sector and stronger philanthropic ecosystem.

Trust-based philanthropy is built on six core values: power sharing, equity, humility, transparency, curiosity, and collaboration.  

In Practice:  The “Big 6” of Trust-Based Philanthropy for Giving Circles

1. Give multi-year, unrestricted funding.  

“Unrestricted is the key word here:  no strings attached funding is critical for any organization, but especially for smaller grassroots organizations. Consider building in a process for giving multi-year funding.” 

2. Do the homework.  

Instead of having an open call for proposals with dozens and dozens of groups taking the time to apply, consider researching and nominating ‘invite only” process to minimize the number of groups who don’t get selected.”

3. Simplify and streamline paperwork.

This applies to applications and reports.”

4. Be transparent and responsive.

“Be clear about your circle’s mission, membership, ideals, focus area, and pooled donation size to help potential grantees understand they are a good fit.”

5. Solicit and act on feedback.  

“This goes for your members AND the groups you give to. Don’t just collect feedback—act on your findings and make improvements for future cycles.”

6. Offer support beyond the check. 

“This is where giving circles shine!  Many giving circles volunteer, join boards, advocate, spread awareness. If this isn’t a current part of your giving circle, discuss how to elevate this practice.”