The triad of markets, states, and society often determines change in the world. Society can highlight problems in holding power accountable, an increasingly complex role in today’s polarised world. However, these approaches are intertwined. They are two sides of the same coin, underpinned by the drive for change and societal betterment.

Trust-based philanthropy acts as a catalyst, embedding trust, intentionality, and transparency in relationships with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). This foundational trust significantly influences the community’s broader interactions and relationships, fostering openness and commitment to shared values between CSOs and communities.

Rather than simply recipients, CSOs are transformed into carriers and multipliers of trust. By ‘paying forward’ the trust received from philanthropists, CSOs create a ripple effect of trust and collaboration throughout the civic network. This trust fortifies each interaction, contributing to a resilient civic engagement framework capable of navigating social complexities with cooperation and mutual respect. In turn, trust-based philanthropy becomes pivotal in transforming civil society’s engagement strategies and championing collaborative approaches to social change.

The imperative of trust reshapes societal engagement in systems change. It serves as both glue and lubricant in the social change machinery, promoting cohesion and facilitating dynamic transitions in an ever-changing world. This deep infusion of trust into philanthropic efforts ensures participation extends beyond mere involvement to encompass influence and co-creation towards meaningful change. With the trust imperative active, the participation narrative shifts from token inclusion to empowered engagement, where societal actors can collaborate and influence, driving resilient systems change and embodying transformative, trust-based philanthropy.

However, trust-based philanthropy doesn’t cure all. It functions within larger systems that can still perpetuate inequality and injustice. Realising a just society also necessitates systemic changes in our economic, political, and social structures. Recognising these complexities showcases our capacity for self-reflection, dedication to progress, and aspiration to contribute to an equitable society.

Read the full article about Trust-based philanthropy and systems change by Gautam John at Alliance.