Striking the Chord of Trust in new Choir Book for Social Justice Philanthropy

March 16, 2016 //

In January, TWI grantee, the Bay Area Justice Funders Network (BAJFN) released “The Choir Book: A Framework for Social Justice Philanthropy.” One of the exciting aspects of this framework is the incorporation of trust-based practices.

In the preamble, framework authors, Rachel Humphrey and Dana Kawaoka-Chen state that, “beyond the specific practices highlighted in this framework, there are two universal grantmaking practices central to social justice philanthropy: unrestricted, general operating support and multi-year funding.” This is the first of nine of TWI’s Trust-Based Investment Practices, and we appreciate the prominence these practices have in this new framework.

Beyond incorporating the concepts of trust-based practice into this new framework for social justice funders, the approach BAJFN took in designing the framework really models TWI’s practice of “open and mutual partnership.” Rather than create a list of best practices for social justice philanthropy, BAJFN instead asked a number of us in the field what dilemmas we find ourselves in and what questions we ask ourselves to arrive at an answer – not “the answer, but “an answer.”

This use of inquiry allows each grantmaker, who is confronted by different organizational dynamics to work from a values-based place, yet in a manner that is unique to their particular situation. For instance, at TWI, we work to “partner in a spirit of service,” and BAJFN was able to reflect this in their guiding values. “Solidarity and Collectivity,” one of their four values, is defined as “We seek to be effective and humble partners, allies and champions with and for communities with an ecosystem view and collaborative approach.”

From a process – perspective, we appreciate BAJFN’s use of dialogic-based practice to curate ideas from lots of different people and synthesize it into one framework that reflects the good thinking and work already happening.

TWI will use this tool as a way to strengthen our own practice, as well as to communicate to others both the ease and the value of this approach to philanthropy. We invite you to do so as well! If you haven’t yet seen this framework, please see BAJFN’s website. We welcome your thoughts and questions!



  1. Dana Kawaoka-Chen on March 16, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    Thank you TWI, for really providing models for what relational capacity in grant making looks like and for being a thought partner and ally in the work!

    • Pia Infante on March 29, 2016 at 3:06 am

      Thank you Dana and BAJFN for your work and thought partnership!