28 May 2019

Philanthropy.Insight. Why Trust Matters.

Most would agree. Today, trust is the missing element in societies around the world. Whether government, business or civil society organizations – citizens, clients or voters are doubtful about the role, legitimacy and performance of institutions. As the philanthropic sector is not spared the questioning, how to respond in order to preserve the license to operate and maintain and strengthen trust in philanthropy?

As a contribution to the search for answers to this challenge, we – Rolf Alter, Rupert Graf Strachwitz and Timo Unger – have recently launched a new project at the Maecenata Foundation in Berlin, Philanthropy.Insight), generously supported by the Carnegie Trust UK. It is our idea to work with a club of committed actors from the philanthropic sector for a stronger, better defined and more accountable type of philanthropy.

Our starting proposition is a pentagon of five Philanthropy.Insight Criteria setting out the normative framework for a renewal of a trust-driven philanthropy, Over the last few months, we have complemented the criteria with qualities for each criterion to better illustrate the content.

The Philanthropy.Insight Monitoring Criteria

When we presented the initiative last week in Paris in the margin of the EFC AGA to an international audience of experts and actors of philanthropy, the reactions were very encouraging. Not only was the need for a renewal widely shared, there was also support for the way we would like to take the initiative forward:

  • Bring committed founders, foundations and experts around the table to finetune the pentagon of criteria and furtherly develop a common understanding of a trust-driven philanthropy
  • Prepare case studies from international foundations to test the validity, value added and practice of the Philanthropy.Insight approach as an assessment and monitoring framework for auto-evaluation and scrutiny of third parties
  • Demonstrate the practical applicability of the Philanthropy.Insight Monitoring Criteria, e.g. to cluster strategic directions, to underpin contested decisions or to work as a basis to pro-actively communicate vis-à-vis partners, policy makers, civil society and the public at large
  • Keep a decidedly transnational focus, with partners from across the OECD space, the global south, Asia, as well as religious and cultural philanthropy.

To make it happen, we will quickly be calling for support and collaboration from the community. We will listen to suggestions, comments and criticism, we will communicate about progress and challenges, and are determined to make the renewal towards a trust-driven philanthropy a success story for the sector and its invaluable role in society. 

Want to find out more about Philanthropy.Insight? Click here.

Dr. Rolf Alter is Director of Philanthropy.Insight at the Maecenata Foundation.