Doing Things Differently: Leveraging Trust for Change


Having been on both the grant-seeking and grant-making side of philanthropy, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to navigate the nonprofit world of resources. From a grant-seeking place, the pressure to please, to convince, or to obtain an award can overshadow the ability of an organization to stay authentic and mission-focused. The countless hoops that grant-seekers are asked to jump through, the data that has to be provided – it is exhausting and sometimes nearly impossible to produce. Not to mention, it takes away from programmatic and mission-centric efforts. This power differential, between foundations and grantees and the role of philanthropy vis a vis nonprofit organizations needs to change. 

Trusting Our Grantee-Partners

As grant-makers, the real difference we can make in our community is through the efforts of our grantee-partners. Our partners are the ones who are closest to the issues we wish to impact. They are the experts working to create solutions.  And those grantee-partners are the ones whose relationships in the community are making a real difference. If we want to affect change, we, as their supporters, must learn to be humble. We seek to walk alongside our grantee partners and trust that they are doing good work without making further demands that take them away from it.   

Relationships are the Core of Our Culture

Organizations that are providing valued services should be supported with flexibility, understanding, and accountability – and not be subjected to the traditional grantee/grantor power dynamic, which is why relationships are the core of our culture. At the Arthur Dean Family Foundation, we are working to implement an approach that centers on real relationships with our grantee partners. An approach that works to establish partnerships of mutual learning and benefit and cuts down on the red-tape of requirements and that leverage trust for change.

We welcome dialog on this subject whether you are an organization or fellow Foundation – get in touch with us. Help us continue our efforts and the conversation to change the culture of philanthropy.  

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