Satterberg’s commitment to trust-based philanthropy

The Satterberg Foundation is an early adopter of our Equitable Funder Pledge. Learn how they are changing their communications, responsiveness, processes, and practices to shift power and build trust with BIPOC-led nonprofits.

The Satterberg Foundation is one of 11 funders who answered our call to shift funding practices by signing the Equitable Funder Pledge

During October 2021, the foundation demonstrated its commitment to trust-based philanthropy by sharing an evaluation report conducted by Headwater People, a Native-owned consulting firm with expertise in organizational design and a focus on the transformational practice of adaptive leadership.

As stated by Satterberg, the report found that it has made important strides, but also has plenty of room to improve. Below is a summary of the foundation’s findings:

Responsiveness: Respondents strongly approve of Satterberg’s new, low-effort grant application and renewal process for multiyear, unrestricted operations support, which “not only frees priceless time but…also cultivates a sense of faith and confidence.”

Communications: Respondents overwhelmingly report that communications are clearer and staff is more accessible. A practice of increased site visits have largely replaced written reporting and allow for continual relationship building.

Processes: Respondents valued the supportive spaces curated to facilitate networking and community building, such as foundation-hosted cohort spaces and access to other funding sources.

Relationships: Grantees reported experiencing deeper and more authentic friendships with foundation staff. Their shift toward a trust-based model allowed greater freedom, flexibility, and opportunities to interact with grantees to be a better partner in addressing  funding needs and challenges. “This holistic embrace of the work for the funded partners is an experience [Headwater] consistently heard described as ‘singular.’”

Reputation: Grantees consistently called upon Satterberg to share their stories of moving toward trust-based philanthropy and to compel other funders to adopt more effective practices grounded in our humanity. 

Areas for Growth: Headwater recommends Satterberg take a closer look into:  

1) helping organizations integrate emergent strategies like new technology,

2) influencing systemic drivers of inequities,

3) leveraging other foundations to be more progressive, and

4) increasing opportunities for community members to be better represented at the Foundation.