Philanthropy is crucial to sustaining and strengthening democracy, now more than ever. Trust-based philanthropy, like democracy, happens through practice. Both require commitment, rigor, and adaptivity. As this supplement has shown, some philanthropic leaders and institutions are exercising democratic, trust-based practices that could contribute to a more manifest multiracial democracy in our time.

If funders understand our collective goal to be strengthening and sustaining democracy, especially as democracy has come under attack around the world, trust-based philanthropy has a major role to play. To illustrate the connection between an embodied practice of democracy and trust-based philanthropy, I highlight the work of three powerful leaders: Brenda Solorzano, a trust-based funder in Montana; Aria Florant, a movement leader bringing reparations and repair to the work of philanthropy; and Kierra Johnson, the executive director of a national LGBTQ+ justice nonprofit.

  • Invest in community wisdom.
  • Trust requires truth-telling
  • Realize that the future is our responsibility.

In trust-based philanthropy, funders are saying “I trust you” to the communities we serve, many of whom the political, social, and economic systems have consistently failed. Johnson calls on funders to “show us you believe communities have the power to shape society, to build a democracy that we’ve never seen before.”

The ultimate work of trust-based philanthropy is to build a democracy that acknowledges the role of structural racism in the creation of wealth in the United States. One where decision-making takes place in communities rather than behind foundation doors. A democracy that is a daily practice emphasizing the connections between our work and the solutions that collaboration makes possible.

Read the full article about trust-based philanthropy in democracy by Pia Infante at Stanford Social Innovation Review.