Here to Stay: Why We Think Trust-Based Philanthropy Should Last Longer than the Pandemic

Michelle Cramer, CFRE, President & CEO, Cramer & Associates


Since March of 2020, the nonprofit community has faced unimaginable obstacles that have forced organizations to reinvent their service models, compete for funding, and expand their capacities with limited resources. As nonprofits worked overnight to address the most pressing  needs in our community, donors suddenly had decisions to make.

How could funders do their part to fuel the work of their nonprofit partners during this global health crisis?

The pandemic was a call-to-action for donors to reevaluate their approach to philanthropy. Partnerships that once revolved around restricted dollars and robust reporting suddenly changed. These partnerships became trust-based relationships that revolved around listening and responding to the needs of the organization, while remaining flexible in the spirit of fueling their mission. For the first time, it was the norm for donors to say:

“We trust you. We believe in your work. You know your organization’s greatest needs better than we do, so use these dollars to meet those needs and continue your impact.”

Through trust-based philanthropy, donors have empowered nonprofits to shift their focus from “How can I best meet the needs of my donor?” to “How can I best meet the needs of the people my organization exists to serve?”

We believe that trust-based philanthropy is powerful stuff — so powerful, that we’ve made it our rallying cry for 2022.

Our team is committed to advocating for trust-based partnerships through our work and we will continue to share stories of trust-based impact throughout the year.


Want to join us and learn more about trust-based philanthropy? Check out the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project.

Funders — Ready to bring a trust-based approach to your organization’s work? Check out the Six Grantmaking Practices of Trust-Based Philanthropy to get started!


Cramer & Associates is a nationally recognized philanthropic consulting firm that has been serving nonprofit organizations, corporations and foundations since 1987. Our full-service firm offers clients a wide range of services, including feasibility studies, campaigns, strategic planning, board training, development audits, events, executive searches and much more. The Cramer Team identifies organizations’ strengths and opportunities and develops campaigns that succeed, empowering organizations to impact their communities.

© 2021 Cramer & Associates | 18 S High St | Dublin, OH 43017 | Ph. 614-766-4483