From opposite sides of the Atlantic, Shaady Salehi of the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project (TBP Project) and Ben Cairns of the Institute for Voluntary Action Research’s (IVAR) “Open and Trusting” initiative are working to radically transform philanthropy as we know it.

Both believe that a shift to more trusting, power-aware relationships between foundations and nonprofits is necessary for civil society to be a true force for equitable, democratic, and effective social change.

In recent years, momentum for such a shift has grown in both the U.S. and the U.K. (Orensten & Buteau, 2020; IVAR, 2019). Yet there’s a nagging feeling for both Shaady and Ben that we’ve been on the precipice before, only to find the sector snapping back into old routines and mindsets. The pushback against high levels of funder control over and demands on nonprofit organizations is as old as the idea of “strategic philanthropy” itself (Jagpal, 2009; Eisenberg, 2013; Patrizi & Heid Thompson, 2011). What will it take this time around to see a true transformation?

In the spirit of learning out loud, Shaady and Ben sat down with learning and evaluation consultant Tanya Beer to explore the shifts they’re seeing, and the potential threats to meaningful change, as both initiatives work to push philanthropy past this tipping point. By comparing their experiences so far, they hope to inspire and inform how not only the TBP Project and IVAR move forward, but also how funders and others in the movement might join forces to influence philanthropy globally.

Read the full article about shifts in philanthropy by Tanya Beer, Shaady Salehi, and Ben Cairns at Johnson Center.