(In)Equality through unrestricted grantmaking: Examining trust and power in the collaboration between the Dutch charity lotteries and their grantees

Olivier Hunnik*, Arjen De Wit, Pamala Wiepking

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Since 1989, the Dutch Charity Lotteries have provided multiyear unrestricted funding, a type of grantmaking that is fairly unique for the Netherlands, to a wide range of nonprofits at home and abroad. This article shares insights into how unrestricted grantmaking influences the relationship between funders and grantees, specifically highlighting how staff at a sample of grantee organizations experience collaboration with this large social enterprise. It discusses hidden and invisible power dynamics that exist in the relationship, even when there are few formal restrictions on grantees' spending. • Grantee representatives interviewed for this study stated that openness and honesty in communication with the Dutch Charity Lotteries leads to mutual trust, and that they experience few formal restrictions. Nevertheless, even unrestricted funding may come with stated or unstated expectations from the funder, and many grantees reported that receiving the grant support leaves them with a sense that they have to “prove they're worth it.” Relaxing formal restrictions gives rise to some uncertainty about what grantees actually have to “prove.” • To ensure a more equal collaboration, it is advisable for foundations to try to detect and consider expectations that are explicit and implicit, conscious and unconscious, and address these. This article offers suggestions for how foundations can do so.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-51
Number of pages14
JournalThe Foundation Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the Dutch Charity Lotteries for supporting their work, and especially Laura Santacreu, Margriet Schreuders, Odiel Evenhuis, and Dorine Manson for their help throughout the project. They would also like to thank the respondents and the grantee organizations for their participation. Pamala Wiepking additionally thanks the Stead family for supporting her work. We are grateful to Ren? Bekkers and Lorraine Nencel for their comments on previous versions of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • collaboration
  • expectations
  • flexible funding
  • foundations
  • funder-grantee relationship
  • power
  • Unrestricted grantmaking


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