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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

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Jul 17, 2020

In this episode - the second in our mini-series on “European philanthropy during and after COVID” – we talk to James Magowan from The European Community Foundation Initiative about the unique role of Community Foundations (CF) in the pandemic response and beyond. Including

  • What is ECFI and what does it do?
  • What is the history and current landscape for CFs across Europe?
  • How do the cultures, histories and legal/policy environments for philanthropy vary across Europe? How does this affect the make-up of CFs in different places?
  • Does this present any challenges in terms of positioning CFs as a coherent “movement”?
  • Are there commonalties? I.e. is it meaningful to talk about “European philanthropy”?
  • What kind of philanthropic responses have we seen across Europe to the challenges posed by covid-19? What role have CFs played?
  • Has the focus on CFs during the pandemic been too transactional (i.e. focused on their role as distributors of funding), and does this risk undermining their other roles as community anchors and advocates?
  • What is the role of infrastructure bodies in helping civil society organisations and funders navigate and adapt to a rapidly-changing environment?
  • What elements of infrastructure are required for a healthy culture of philanthropy and a vibrant civil society?
  • Should CFs be considered as “infrastructure”?
  • Has the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to coordinate responses effectively increased awareness of the value of infrastructure?
  • Do we need to make a renewed case for the value of infrastructure and the need to ensure it is properly funded?


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