Exploring the Pillars of Trust-Based Philanthropy: Provide Unrestricted, Multi-Year Funding

Last weekend I took a yoga class near my home in Brooklyn. The fit and kind young yoga instructor started the class by interpreting some of the dharma. Now to be honest, I usually zone out during this part–I have a hard time taking ancient wisdom from 23-year-olds. But this time the message permeated a bit as the instructor talked about the Bhagavadgita, the Hindu text which speaks about giving: 

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Exploring the Pillars of Trust-Based Philanthropy: Support Beyond the Check

Two weeks ago, we invited the program directors from our New York City grantee partner organizations to join us on a retreat. Our plan is to do this annually, so that our partners get to know each other’s programs and build community. This part of our work falls under the Trust-Based Philanthropy principle of providing “Support Beyond the Check.” We also think of thought partnership, support around leadership transition, introductions to potential funders or allies, and lending our offices for off-site meetings as ways we support grantee partners beyond the check – some of them more helpful than others. 

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Exploring the Pillars of Trust-Based Philanthropy: Solicit and Act on Feedback

Two year ago, we launched a new grantmaking area here at Robert Sterling Clark—we now fund network and leadership development programs. As we developed this new grantmaking area, we also implemented a new way to evaluate our grantmaking. We asked each of our grantee partners to complete a self-assessment tool to help us understand the progress they were making with our support.

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Robert Sterling Clark Foundation Blog: Trust-Based Philanthropy Series Introductory Post

It’s a Matter of Trust: Introducing a New Blog Series on Trust-Based Philanthropy

As many of you readers already know, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation utilizes a trust-based philanthropy approach in our work. That means we thrive on relationships grounded in mutual trust and respect, and we seek to imbue those traits into every interaction—whether it’s with a grantee partner, an individual leader, a funder, a collaborator, or an ally.

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Philip LiComment
Building A Movement

Funder Spotlight: Headwaters Foundation

Headwaters Foundation in Missoula, Montana is a new health conversion foundation that has been committed to embracing trust-based philanthropy since its inception. This commitment has led to a number of innovations – including GO! Grants that are designed to put grant funds in the hands of grantees in less than a month – as well as some informative lessons. As part of our ongoing series on trust-based philanthropy, we sat down with Headwaters CEO Brenda Solorzano to get the full scoop.

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The Ethical Argument for General Operating Funds

Hi everyone. Before we begin, thank you to all the colleagues who donated to my organization on my birthday last week. It helps our mission of developing more leaders of color and strengthening organizations led by communities of color. If you haven’t donated, it’s not too late

This blog post is going to be a little more serious than usual. I’m going to say things that may be very difficult for many people to hear. Especially if you work for a foundation that provides restricted funding, please take a deep breath. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but we need to have this conversation. Next week’s post will be lighter. Unless something else comes up.

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Nonprofit AFComment
Announcing the Sterling NYC Network



City leaders across nonprofit, government, and business sectors join forces to make systems impact 

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Lisa Pilar CowanComment
Whitman Institute Profiles Phil Li

Since his appointment as president a year and a half ago, Phil Li of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation has taken dramatic steps toward embodying trust-based philanthropy, including getting rid of lengthy reporting requirements and shifting toward multi-year unrestricted support. As part of The Whitman Institute’s ongoing series featuring funders embodying trust-based philanthropy, we sat down with him to get the scoop:

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A New Chapter for The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation

The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation has undergone a generational change in leadership with the retirement of Margaret C. Ayers after thirty-eight years of service and the arrival last year of Phil Li, our new president.   The foundation’s transition has provided a welcome interlude for the Board. We have reflected on our programs and, in doing so, have thought about the nature of leadership in a foundation and, more broadly, leadership within the nonprofit and governmental sectors, especially in New York City. 

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