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Welcome to the Giving Thought Podcast, a bi-weekly exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society from the Charities Aid Foundation’s in-house think-tank, Giving Thought.

In each episode your host Rhodri Davies (formerly with co-host Adam Pickering) explores a big issue, theme or trend and analyses what it means for philanthropy and civil society around the world.

Be sure to check the show notes for each podcast and find blogs, reports and videos from Giving Thought and do get in touch if you have questions or suggestions at

Finally, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or your podcast provider of choice.

Jun 26, 2018

In episode 28, Rhod is joined by Ben Soskis, a Fellow at the Urban Institute and editor of, for a wide-ranging (and quite long!) chat about the history of philanthropy and what it can teach us about the big challenges facing charities and donors today. They talked about all sorts of things, such as:

-Why is studying the history of philanthropy worthwhile, and what are the limitations of historical comparison?

-What are the most telling criticisms of philanthropy that have been seen through the ages?

-Which supposedly “new” developments in philanthropy actually have historical precedents? What, if anything, is genuinely new?

-Is philanthropy anti-democratic? Can that sometimes be a good thing?

-Why have power dynamics always been such a challenge for philanthropy, and what efforts have been taken to overcome this challenge?

-What are the biggest challenges facing philanthropy in the US right now?


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