Trust-Based Philanthropy: A Candid Conversation with John Brothers

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 “The goal is not to tackle a gazelle. The goal is to create a relationship.”
– John Brothers

Episode #169


In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

All of you are welcome for an open and insightful discussion about philanthropy based on trust. Today, our guest draws upon extensive experience to encourage both donors and nonprofit organizations to engage in a path toward community partnerships that are more significant and impactful.

In this episode, we sit down with John Brothers, a seasoned advocate for trust-based philanthropy and President of the T. Rowe Price Foundation, to unravel the intricacies of fostering genuine relationships between funders and nonprofits. John candidly shares his insights on transforming traditional philanthropic models and the journey toward a more transparent and community-centric approach.


John Brothers is presently the President of the T. Rowe Price Foundation and holds the position of President for the Program for Charitable Giving. Before joining T. Rowe Price, John founded and led Quidoo Consulting, an international consulting firm, for over ten years. During his tenure at Quidoo, he played a crucial role in expanding the firm and collaborating with more than 400 clients across twelve countries worldwide. Also, John holds a Doctorate in Law and Policy from Northeastern University, an MPA in Nonprofit Management from New York University, and an MBA in Public Policy from American Public University, where he initially began at Columbia.


The conversation delves into the origins of trust-based philanthropy, with John reflecting on the T. Rowe Price Foundation’s transformative journey that began in the aftermath of the 2015 unrest in Baltimore. Listeners gain a unique perspective on the importance of active listening and understanding the community’s needs instead of adhering to conventional industry norms.

As John recounts his experiences as a former Community Organizer and fundraiser, he sheds light on the industry’s challenges and the harmful power dynamics that often go unnoticed. The discussion takes a critical turn as John challenges the conventional thinking around philanthropy, emphasizing the need for a paradigm shift from a focus on scale to a genuine concern for organizational health.



John Brothers


  • Support for this show is brought to you by Instil. Our friends at Instil really understand what it means to build and manage relationships in a holistic and human-first way. The platform’s advanced UX design and real-time analytics smooth donor management to make it easy for you to connect every supporter to the impact of your work. To learn more head on over to www.instil.io/mallory.

  • If you haven’t already, please visit our new What the Fundraising community forum. Check it out and join the conversation at this link.
  • If you’re looking to raise more from the right funders, then you’ll want to check out my Power Partners Formula, a step-by-step approach to identifying the optimal partners for your organization. This free masterclass offers a great starting point

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Get to know John Brothers:

John Brothers is the president of the T. Rowe Price Foundation and of T. Rowe Price Charitable. John has been with T. Rowe Price since 2015. Prior to this, John founded and led Quidoo, an international consulting firm. John has held multiple academic positions including as adjunct professor at Rutgers University and New York University; a visiting scholar at the Hauser Center at Harvard University; and an advisor to the China Global Philanthropy Institute in Beijing. He is currently serving as a visiting fellow with the Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s University in Northern Ireland. John has been a writer with the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Nonprofit Quarterly, and the Huffington Post and is the author of several books. He has appeared in many national and international media outlets and presented at multiple conferences about nonprofit and philanthropic effectiveness. John currently serves on the board of multiple nonprofits in Baltimore City. John earned a doctorate degree in law and policy from Northeastern University, an M.P.A. in nonprofit management from New York University, and an M.B.A. in public policy from American Public University.


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I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.


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