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ERNOP Online Series 2023-2024

Trust -based funding: The Role of Unrestricted Funding in Developing Nonprofit Capacities and Effectiveness

March 5, 2024, 10-11 AM (CET)

Speakers: Pamala Wiepking (Center for Grantmaking Research, VU Amsterdam & IU Lilly School of Philanthropy) and Nora Wilhelm (the well • change atelier and collaboratio helvetica)

Discussant: Stefanos Oikonomou (Philanthropy Europe Assocation)

About this seminar:

How does unrestricted funding lead to increased nonprofit capacities? What factors can influence the decision to (not) provide unrestricted funding? Recent developments show a trend where large foundations move towards more unrestricted and trust-based funding practices. Research shows that unrestricted funding can play an important role in the development of nonprofit capacities, such as financial management, operational capacity, mission orientation and innovation. And increased nonprofit capacities lead to higher nonprofit effectiveness: the extent to which an organization achieves its goals. In this session, we will first explain how (gradations of) unrestricted funding lead to increased nonprofit capacities. Second, we will focus on the role of funders.

Specifically, we will discuss factors that may influence the decision of funders to provide unrestricted funding, and how it relates to other questions regarding the design of funding mechanisms. We will introduce a concrete tool (co-created with funders during the Funding Systems Change initiative) that supports funders in reflecting on the design of their funding mechanisms, of which one is to what extent the funder is investing in project costs only, or moving towards ‘core funding’. Based on the opportunities for diverse funding mechanisms, we will discuss which types of funding approaches are most conducive to addressing complex challenges and fostering change on a systemic level. Finally, we will explore what might prevent funders from choosing the most effective funding strategy.

To watch the recording of this webinar, click here.  

About Prof Pamala Wiepking 

Pamala Wiepking is the Stead family chair in international philanthropy and associate professor of philanthropic studies at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and professor of the societal significance of charitable lotteries at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where she studies the effects of unrestricted funding for nonprofits. She also studies international and interdisciplinary explanations for philanthropy with the aim to support the creation of more generous societies.

About Nora Wilhelm

Nora Wilhelm is a social innovator, entrepreneur and researcher with a background in active citizenship, collaboration and systems change. She is the founder of collaboratio helvetica, a cross-sectoral innovation ecosystem that catalyses systemic change towards the Agenda 2030 in Switzerland, and of the well change atelier. Her work was recognised by institutions such as Forbes (30 under 30), UNEP, UNESCO and the Swiss government, and she regularly speaks on international stages. She holds a BA in International Affairs from the University of St. Gallen and a MSt in Social Innovation from the University of Cambridge.

About Stefanos Oikonomou

Stefanos’s role at Philea encompasses the strategy, implementation, and M&E for the Philea portfolio of communities of practice and peer-exchange programmes. Stefanos is passionate about weaving networks; and enabling sharing of best practices pertaining to both strategic and trust-based philanthropy. In this way, he hopes to contribute to a more effective, accountable, and inclusive sector