Sherwood Trust
Founded by Donald & Virginia Sherwood

Giving Principles


In carrying out its mission, Sherwood Trust reflects a distinct concept of philanthropy that mirrors principles that guided Donald and Virginia Sherwood during their lives. Those concepts are captured in the giving principles established by our first board:

  • Private philanthropy should be a strategic activity; it is not charity. It demands the seriousness of a long-term investment and requires stringent underwriting to insure that the recipient is an effective organization and the proposed grant will achieve measurable results.

  • Private philanthropy is profoundly different from government. It is free to take risks, create incentives, demand accountability, and explore initiatives in ways which government is restrained from doing. It should be driven by an entrepreneurial spirit to focus on specific solutions with the expectation of achieving set goals and real results in a timely manner.

  • Effective giving requires recipients to be as tough-minded and independent as their donors, insisting on strong leadership, competent management, successful innovation, and actual results rather than merely intentions voiced and services rendered.

  • Effectiveness is the principal criterion of Sherwood Trust in approving grants and favors non-profit organizations with a successful record of accomplishing results. It also favors nonprofit organizations that focus on discrete, tangible problems and set achievable, measurable goals that lead to solutions rather than try to solve broad, intractable social problems.

  • The role of Sherwood Trust is to encourage and promote, rather than dictate, nonprofit organizations to adopt the best ideas from the private sector or from other nonprofit organizations with a demonstrated record of success.

It is these principles and our core values -- collaboration, empathy, equity, excellence, integrity, and sustainability -- that will endure and continue to drive Sherwood Trust, while its strategies and operating procedures endlessly adapt to a changing world.