Trust in Philanthropy: Part Seven — Beyond the Check

Trust in Philanthropy: Part Seven — Beyond the Check

Posted on April 13, 2021 by John Ferguson, TPF Fellow 2020/21

Editor's Note: TPF values and approaches often mirror the fundamental principles of trust-based philanthropy. Throughout this series, TPF Fellow, John Ferguson, will explore how they intersect and what it could mean for the future of the philanthropic sector should it become the operational norm, instead of the rare exception.

Continue reading John Ferguson's blog series:

The sixth and final principle of trust-based philanthropy is to offer support beyond the check. Providing support can be simple, like promoting grantees' work in various ways, serving as a sounding board, or introducing grantees to others with similar or complementary missions. This weaves connective tissue and fosters an environment in which individuals and organizations can continually learn from and be inspired by each other. Support can also be more complex, like developing and managing a peer-learning network or hosting a retreat focused on rejuvenation and inspiring bold leadership. Whatever form it takes, providing non-monetary support may be more important to grantees' long-term success than financial support.

Since The Patterson Foundation (TPF) operates outside of a traditional grantmaking model, offering support beyond the check is one of its core values. When we look holistically at TPF's values, it becomes evident that its approach meshes beautifully with the sixth principle of trust-based philanthropy.

TPF's values guide our approach to philanthropy, demonstrating our collaborative philosophy and tenets of change.

We work with others to strengthen their impact by:

  • Understanding that resources and expertise beyond the gift provide value
  • Being accessible and engaged with others
  • Striving to learn as we collaborate and share successes and challenges
We believe meaningful change requires commitment and persistence and encourage this by:
  • Embracing new ideas that address a constantly changing world
  • Undertaking philanthropic work in ways others are not doing, cannot do, or will not do
  • Demonstrating integrity blended with joyful stewardship
We invest for lasting impact by:
  • Managing assets responsibly
  • Realizing real change requires depth of resources
  • Focusing on shared aspirations while leveraging resources

An example of TPF living its values is a new one-credit course designed for Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. It was co-led by President/CEO Debra Jacobs, Inaugural Fellow Hannah Saeger Karnei, and TPF consultant Donna Puhalovich. Entitled "Beyond the Check: The Patterson Foundation's Approach to Innovative Philanthropy," the course provided an opportunity for students to explore critical topics, including values-driven leadership and creating value beyond the check.

Providing resources and opportunities for collaboration, learning, and sharing is ingrained in TPF's DNA, but creating connection and non-monetary support can be done by any funder. This type of support is invaluable for grantees. Participating in such opportunities helps build capacity and leadership in ways that no amount of money could accomplish. But it takes time to build the relationships and trust needed to optimize the experience for both grantees and funders, so it is important to be patient and allow both to develop naturally.

Every funder has aspirations for the impact they wish to have throughout the communities they serve. Doing the most good requires partnership, not just strategic investment. The check is not the end, only the beginning.

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