12 December 2022  -  13 December 2022
Brussels, Belgium

Operations Professionals Network – Trust-based Philanthropy at a Time of Compounding Crises

The Operations Professionals Network will meet on 12-13 December in Philanthropy House, Brussels to explore “Trust-based Philanthropy at a Time of Compounding Crises”

In recent years, the philanthropic field has increasingly embraced more trust-based ways of working. Research on the ‘non-profit starvation cycle’ and initiatives like ‘funders for real change’ have brought greater awareness on the links between longer-term, unrestricted funding and the health of non-profit organisations and the civic space at large. Against a backdrop of compounding and inter-connected crises, often referred to as the ‘polycrisis’; restricted and project-based support seems to be falling short from tackling the underlying root causes of some of the thorniest issues.

Trust-based philanthropy provides a framework and practices for a new philanthropic paradigm, but risks also introducing simplistic dichotomies between strategy and trust, often referred to as the ‘mind’ and the ‘heart’ of philanthropy, when funding organisations need to blend both. In addition, expanding our mindsets and practices around philanthropic funding necessitates we thoughtfully wrestle with questions of power and imbalance in funding practices, which seem to be impacting organisations in different ways – equitable funding is more difficult to trickle down to marginalised groups that historically have been most disconnected from resources, with the phenomenon even more pronounced in the Global South.  

The current context with record-high inflation, the cost of living crisis and uncertainty about another recession, heightens the sense of urgency with which we need to wrestle with how philanthropic funding practices contribute to the resilience of partner organisations, and the broader field to withstand current and future shocks. The event will offer a space for questions of trust and power to be explored from different functional areas – COOs, Finance, IT, HR, and Legal – and will unpack how trust shows up in the work of operations professionals in philanthropy, what are the enabling factors, tensions, and lessons learned from the journeys of OPN peer organisations


Stefanos Oikonomou
Head of Programmes – Peer-Exchanges