Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

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.

Jul 3, 2017

Episode 4 of the Giving Thought podcast attempts to assess whether philanthropy supports or undermines democracy and whether that question even makes sense. Rhodri and Adam cover the following themes:


  • Philanthropy is anti-democratic: We highlight recent examples of the long-standing controversy over the anti-democratic nature of philanthropy (e.g. Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, George Soros and the Koch brothers). But we ask: is being undemocratic in fact a strength to be celebrated? We look at various arguments and examples, including the historical role of philanthropy in promoting unpopular causes, the story of Julius Rosenwald and the current US foundation movement to oppose Trump administration.
  • Philanthropic power enhances democracy: Exploring the value of pluralism and civic freedom in enhancing minority voices in democracy. Does philanthropy take the blame for the effect of inequality?
  • The eye of the beholder: The use of aid and philanthropy as a soft power tool to spread democracy (Eastern Europe after the cold war and the Arab Spring)


Related content from the Giving Thought blog: