124 episodes

This is the podcast from CAF’s think tank Giving Thought, where we look at big issues, themes and news stories that relate to philanthropy and the work of civil society.

Our host, Rhodri Davies, leads you through a wide range of fascinating topics, and also speaks to great guests who bring their own insight and expertise on civil society issues.

For more in depth content from Giving Thought, please visit https://www.cafonline.org/about-us/blog-home/giving-thought

Giving Thought Giving Thought

    • Business
    • 4.8 • 15 Ratings

This is the podcast from CAF’s think tank Giving Thought, where we look at big issues, themes and news stories that relate to philanthropy and the work of civil society.

Our host, Rhodri Davies, leads you through a wide range of fascinating topics, and also speaks to great guests who bring their own insight and expertise on civil society issues.

For more in depth content from Giving Thought, please visit https://www.cafonline.org/about-us/blog-home/giving-thought

    Next Gen Philanthropy, with Sharna Goldseker & Michael Moody

    Next Gen Philanthropy, with Sharna Goldseker & Michael Moody

    In this episode we talk to Sharna Goldseker and Michael Moody about their book Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors are Revolutionizing Giving, which is now available in an updated and expanded 2nd edition. Including:
     
    In what ways are Next Gen donors genuinely different from previous generations? Do Next Gen donors give to significantly different causes than their parents’ generation, or simply give to the same causes but in different ways? Are Next Gen donors more likely to adopt non-traditional vehicles for their giving? If so, what does this tell us about the limitations of current non-profit models? Do Next Gen donors tend to seek advice on their giving (either at the outset, or on an ongoing basis)? If so, who do they turn to? Whilst almost all Next Gen donors agree that they “want to see the impact of their giving”, what they mean by “impact” varies considerably- some looking for rigorous metrics and outcome measure, others for human interaction or compelling stories. How can nonprofits cater effectively to these differing notions of impact? Are Next Gen donors more likely to take a holistic view of philanthropy, in relation to how wealth is created, how it is invested etc? What does this mean in practical terms? What are the key differences between inherited and earned wealth and how do they influence approaches to philanthropy? What role does philanthropy play in the planning of wealth transfer within families? (E.g. is philanthropy seen as a tool for engaging the younger generation in the family’s financial affairs? What sorts of roles are Next Gens playing with regard to their family’s giving?) Are Next Gen donors more likely to want to blur the boundaries between philanthropy and political activity in order to pursue their aims? Is the desire for more “hands-on” engagement from Next Gen donors an opportunity to tap into additional skills, or does it present a new challenge in terms of awkward power dynamics? (I.e. is there a danger of Next Gen donors assuming that their knowledge is “better/more important” than that of people working in nonprofits, simply because of the power dynamics that come with funding?) Should we worry that the growing wave of scepticism, and even cynicism towards philanthropy, will have a negative impact on Next Gen donors’ willingness to give?  
    Related content:
    More detail on the book from Sharna’s 21/64 website Excerpt of 1st edition of Generation Impact in SSIR More on Next Gen philanthropy from the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy

    • 56 min
    Philanthropy, Domestic Violence & Partnering with the Public Sector, with Stelio Stefanou

    Philanthropy, Domestic Violence & Partnering with the Public Sector, with Stelio Stefanou

    In this episode we talk to Stelio Stefanou OBE, philanthropist and Founder of the For Baby’s Sake Trust (FBST) - a charity which focuses on working with parents to address the impact of domestic violence on the early years development of children. In a wide-ranging conversation, we discussed:
     
    Is “philanthropist” a helpful or unhelpful word? How does a business background shape approaches to philanthropy? Why is it important to recognise that success in business doesn’t automatically equate to expertise about social issues or the work of charities? Why is an evidence base so crucial to the work of FBST? How has the organisation worked with academics to build that evidence base? How important is it that philanthropy looks beyond addressing symptoms and tries to address underlying causes? Are there challenges to combining advocacy with direct provision of services, or do the two naturally go hand-in-hand? How has the pandemic affected the work of FBST? What, if anything, is the USP of philanthropy in relation to the public or private sector? Does the ability of philanthropy to work over a longer time horizon make it better suited to supporting early interventions? Do you see yourself as having any responsibility to encourage other wealthy people to give, or is giving entirely down to personal choice? Should philanthropists see themselves as having any responsibility to encourage other wealthy people to give, or is giving entirely down to personal choice? Is there a danger that the growing wave of scepticism, and even cynicism towards philanthropy, will have a negative impact on people’s willingness to give? Des fear of “failure” hold some wealthy people back from engaging in philanthropy? How should we understand failure in philanthropy (and how is this different to failure in the public or private sector?)  
    Related Links:
    For Baby’s Sake Trust website Info on FBST’s approach to influencing Giving Thought podcast with Jo Kerr and Sonya Ruparel

    • 47 min
    Modern Grantmaking, with Gemma Bull & Tom Steinberg

    Modern Grantmaking, with Gemma Bull & Tom Steinberg

    In this episode Rhod sat down with Gemma Bull and Tom Steinberg, authors of new book "Modern Grantmaking: A Guide for Funders Who Believe Better is Possible". In a wide-ranging conversation, we discussed:
     
    Humility & Funder Ego
    Why is humility such a key part of Modern Grantmaking? Is part of the problem that traditionally our idea of what it means to be “good at grantmaking” has revolved around attributing genius to funders and grantmakers in terms of their choices/program design, rather than on the extent to which they nurture grantees? Do we need to redefine what counts as success and failure in grantmaking? Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
    Does grantmaking have a diversity problem? Are funders more effective when they reflect more closely the people and communities they serve? In what ways can they achieve this? Do some grantmaking practices exclude people from already-marginalised communities? (E.g. focus on the written-word, invitation-based grantmaking etc.) Privilege & Power
    Is traditional grantmaking paternalistic, and too often about decisions being made about communities rather than by them? The book emphasises that modern grantmakers should see themselves as serving the people and communities they fund– what does this mean in practice? Why is it so important for grantmakers to check their privilege, and what does this mean in practice? How do you navigate power dynamics within a grantmaking org- e.g. between trustees and grantmakers, or between philanthropic donors and the staff of a foundation? Participation & Movements
    There is a growing amount of focus on participatory approaches to grantmaking at the moment as part of the solution to the criticisms being levelled at philanthropy. How much of the rhetoric is reflected in reality? Would all grantmaking be participatory in an ideal world? Or are there limits to participatory approaches? i.e. are there some situations in which it is better for expert funders to set aims and design programs? Or are there cause areas in which participatory approaches are not suitable for other reasons? Would it help if more funders supported grassroots organisations and movements? Funding practices
    Are there signs that funders are changing their behaviour during the current crisis? (Moving to unrestricted funding, trust-based grantmaking etc.) Is this likely to lead to longer-term changes? Risk and Innovation
    Many have argued that a key function of philanthropic funding is to drive society forward by taking risks and funding things that the state and market cannot – but how much current philanthropic grantmaking do you think meets this criterion? Is there a danger that “being innovative” becomes an end in itself, and results in continual chasing after shiny new things, rather than funding things that are already known to work? Evidence and Impact
    The book argues that modern grantmaking requires more of a focus on evidence-based decisions- what kinds of evidence should grantmakers be considering? Do we need to ensure that different kinds of evidence and expertise are considered equally, in order to avoid perpetuating inequalities? What role can data play in making grantmaking more effective and equitable?  
     
    Related Links:
    Modern Grantmaking- the book The Grant Givers Movement Giving Thought podcast with Meg Massey & Hannah Paterson Giving Thought podcast with Nell Edgington Giving Thought podcast with Fozia Irfan

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Philanthropy, Racial Justice & Funding Grassroots Organizing, with Lori Bezahler

    Philanthropy, Racial Justice & Funding Grassroots Organizing, with Lori Bezahler

    In this episode we're joined by Lori Bezahler, President of the Edward W. Hazen Foundation, to discuss the role of philanthropy in supporting racial justice and funding grassroots organizing or social movements. Including:
     
    Racial Justice
    Is racial injustice such a big/cross-cutting issues that it should not be seen as a cause area, but rather as something that is the responsibility of ALL philanthropic funders and nonprofits? What does this mean in practice re racial justice issues? (E.g. supporting more grantees led by BIPOC leaders, promoting more BIPOC employees into positions of authority within foundations, acknowledging where philanthropic assets have been created in ways that exacerbated racial injustice, paying reparations etc?) Should we be optimistic that the current recognition of the need to apply a racial justice lens across philanthropy will be maintained?  
    The “Movement Moment”
    Is the current enthusiasm for social movements reflective of a frustration people have that traditional nonprofits have failed to move the needle on issues such as the climate crisis or racial justice? Is the fact that participation is inherent to the approach of social movements part of their appeal, as it gives people a greater sense of agency over problems that can seem insurmountable? Are traditional nonprofits and funders too often a reflection of existing systems and power structures to push for the kind of radical solutions we need to deal with huge global, structural challenges? Does the ability of social movements to be more overtly political, or to employ more challenging tactics (e.g. protest, direct action), give them an advantage over civil society organisations (CSOs) that might be more constrained by legal/regulatory requirements? Can movements that have grown to huge scale very quickly find that they are lacking some of the elements of organisations infrastructure that they might need if they are to be sustainable over the longer-term? If so, can traditional CSOs and nonprofits work with them to provide some of that infrastructure? Does this happen in practice?  
    Funding movements
    How can a funder determine where best to allocate their resources in order to support a movement most effectively? How big a risk is there that foundations and other funders co-opt social movements by deliberately introducing grant stipulations etc. aimed to direct the focus of the movement away from controversial areas or soften their tactics? Can funding from donors/foundations confer legitimacy on movements as well as financial resources? Is this useful for the movements? Can funders use their power positively on behalf of the movements they fund? Why is core-cost and multi-year funding so important when supporting movements? Are we seeing more funders recognise this and adapt the way they fund?  
    Spending Down
    The Hazen Foundation took the bold decision in 2019 to spend down its remaining endowment over 5 years. What was the rationale for doing this at this point, after nearly 100 years of operating? What is the foundation aiming to fund over the coming years to ensure the foundation leaves a strong legacy? Should more foundations should consider spending down?  
    Mission Related Investment
    Why did the Hazen Foundation decide to take a fully mission-related investment approach? What does this mean in practice? Does this involve going beyond screening to look for active opportunities to invest in activities that further the foundation’s mission? How are trade-offs between financial return and social impact assessed?  
     
     
    Related Links:
     
    The Edward W. Hazen Foundation Lori’s Chronicle of Philanthropy opinion piece, “To Achieve Justice, Philanthropy Must Give Up Its Power” Lori’s joint article with Lateefah Simon in Chronicle of Philanthropy, “How Foundations Can Grapple With the Reality That Their Wealth Was Accumulated Unjustly” Lori’s piece for Inside Philanthropy, “Philanthro

    • 55 min
    Poverty, Participation & The Pandemic, with Jo Kerr & Sonya Ruparel

    Poverty, Participation & The Pandemic, with Jo Kerr & Sonya Ruparel

    In this episode we talk to Jo Kerr and Sonya Ruparel, from UK charity Turn2Us, about poverty, participation and the impact of the pandemic. Including:
     
    Impact of Covid Pandemic
    How has the Covid 19 pandemic affected Turn 2 Us, and the people and communities the charity serves? What are the biggest challenges for the organisation over the coming months and longer-term post-pandemic? Digital Transformation
    Has the necessity to adapt due to the pandemic accelerated Turn2Us’s digital adoption or transformation at all? If so, how? How important is the collection and use of data to the charity’s work? How is a focus on data incorporated into the organisation’s strategy? To what extent is digital transformation about employment practices rather than technology? (E.g. flexible/remote working, making charity work more appealing than private or public sector). Has the pandemic presented an opportunity in this regard? How might the charity workplace change over the next decade or so? What are the major barriers to the charity sector when it comes to engaging with and making use of technology? Poverty
    What, for Turn 2 Us, are the key areas of focus when it comes to tackling poverty? How have issues of poverty changed during the pandemic? Do particular communities or geographic localities face particular challenges when it comes to the impacts of poverty? How do you combine the specificity to address these particular challenges with the generality required to work at scale? Role of charities
    What is the core role of civil society which differentiates it from either state or market provision? A lot of the work of Turn 2 Us is about helping people to understand and claim rights and benefits provided by the state- so is it more about “justice” than “charity”? How should we view the balance between addressing the symptoms of poverty through direct services and addressing its causes through advocating for fundamental systemic reform? Participation & Power
    Turn 2 Us’s approach is rooted in ideas of co-production and empowering those in need to determine their own solutions. Why is this so important? What should we make of approaches such as participatory grantmaking, which seek to shift power as well as money towards recipients? Will we see more of this in coming years? Infrastructure
    Has the Covid pandemic highlighted the importance of strong civil society infrastructure? What are the key elements of this infrastructure? How do we ensure that infrastructure is fit for the challenges of the future?  
    Related Links
    The Turn2Us website Independent article about Turn2Us new benefits calculator, “The new financial tools supporting those hit hardest by Covid” Rhod’s Giving Thought blog on “Mutual Aid, Charity & Philanthropy” Rhod’s Giving Thought blog on “Philanthropy and Civil Society after Covid-19: Key questions for the future” Our Giving Thought podcast series on “Covid 19: Voices From Civil Society”  
     
     
     
     

    • 53 min
    Participatory grantmaking, with Meg Massey & Hannah Paterson

    Participatory grantmaking, with Meg Massey & Hannah Paterson

    In this episode we talk participatory approaches in philanthropy and social investment, with Meg Massey, co-author of “Letting Go: How Philanthropists and Impact Investors Can Do More Good by Giving Up Control” and Hannah Paterson, Senior Portfolio Manager at the National Lottery Community Fund. Including:
     
    There is a growing amount of focus on participatory approaches to grantmaking at the moment as part of the solution to the criticisms being levelled at philanthropy. How much of the rhetoric is reflected in reality? If there is resistance to adopting participatory approaches, why is this? What’s the core case for adopting participatory approaches: that it democratises philanthropy (and thus helps to answer various critiques) or that it results in better outcomes? Or is it both? What different kinds of models of participatory grantmaking are there? What kind of challenges are there for traditional grantmakers when it comes to bringing communities and people with lived experience into decision making processes? Do participants in a grantmaking decision process need to be representative of a wider community? If so, how do you select them to ensure that representation? How can existing grantmakers transition some or all of their grantmaking to participatory methods? Would all grantmaking be participatory in an ideal world? Or are there limits to participatory approaches? i.e. are there some situations in which it is better for expert funders to set aims and design programs? Or are there cause areas in which participatory approaches are not suitable for other reasons? Can participatory approaches be used outside traditional grantmaking too, e.g. in impact investing/social investment? Does the prominence of XR, BLM and other “new power” organisations suggest an unmet demand within civil society for participation and sharing power? What lessons should traditional CSOs and funders take from this? What should we make of criticisms that since philanthropy is to some extent a product of structural inequality, it can never truly be part of the solution? Are some donors and funders recognise the challenges and are genuinely pursuing structural change?  
    Related Links
     
    Meg’s new book (co-authored with Ben Wrobel) “Letting Go: How Philanthropists and Impact Investors Can Do More Good by Giving Up Control” Meg on Twitter Hannah’s website Hannah on Twitter The Participatory Grantmaking community Meg and Ben’s article for Pioneers Post “How philanthropists and impact investors can do more good – by giving up control” Meg and Ben’s article for NonProfit Quarterly “Philanthropy and the Zen of Participation” Rhod’s World Economic Forum article, “Philanthropy is at a turning point. Here are 6 ways it could go” CAF Giving Thought podcast on participatory philanthropy with Rose Longhurst  

    • 57 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
15 Ratings

15 Ratings

Rachel Collinson ,

Great podcast!

Rhodri is skilled at getting thought-provoking commentary out of his guests. I love how the questions he asks gave me a new perspective. If only more people in the non-profit sector listened to this.