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April 12, 2022

Trust-Based Philanthropy: A Primer for Donors

The world of philanthropy is in the process of reimagining some widely accepted rules of charitable giving. That process is changing the nature of relationships between donors, the organizations they support, and the communities those organizations serve through the trust-based movement. Whether you manage your giving with a Glenmede Donor-Advised Fund or a private foundation, you have an important role to play in making philanthropy more democratic, inclusive and, ultimately, more effective.

What is Trust-Based Philanthropy?

Trust-based philanthropy is a partnership model between funders, nonprofit organizations, practitioners and communities that acknowledges the unique needs and capacities of all stakeholders by rebalancing power and decision making.

Here are a few key principles that compose the trust-based approach on a donor’s part:

Unrestricted Grantmaking

Perhaps the most well-known and central practice within trust-based philanthropy is its emphasis on unrestricted, multi-year grantmaking. Philanthropic dollars without specific programmatic earmarks allow nonprofits to deploy funding where they best see fit.

Unrestricted, general operating support has made a crucial difference to many nonprofits throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them the flexibility to adapt and expand their programs.

Donor Transparency

Being forthcoming about your identity can help facilitate deeper donor-grantee relationships in the long term. You are free to disclose as much or as little personal information in your grantmaking as you would like, but when recommending a grant from a donor-advised fund, consider including identifying information along with the grant letter.

Donor Proactivity

Informed, engaged donors can and should ask questions and do background research. Explore organizations that meet your giving priorities but aren’t yet well-known in your community. By funding smaller or early-stage organizations, you have the potential to have an outsized impact on their future.

Read the full blog, and learn more about this emerging movement in philanthropy HERE.

— Andrea Rush, Senior Vice President of Philanthropic Services, National Philanthropic Trust


This piece has been created by National Philanthropic Trust (NPT) for current and prospective donors. It is republished with permission from NPT. The Glenmede Donor-Advised Fund is offered under an agreement between Glenmede and NPT, a public charity incorporated in Pennsylvania and a sponsoring organization of donor-advised funds.


NPT does not provide legal or tax advice. This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be, and shall not be relied upon as, legal or tax advice. The applicability of information contained here may vary depending on individual circumstances.