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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 7, 2017

Episode 5 of the Giving Thought podcast looks at the role of business when it comes to doing social good, and what this means for philanthropy in general. Rhod and Adam take a tour through the following topics:


  • Why should businesses do good? We ask what theoretical grounding there is for expecting companies to show social responsibility or perform philanthropic acts is. Is there a social contract that places responsibilities on companies just as it does on individuals, or does it always come down to self-interest in some form or another? And is that merely the pragmatic self-interest of wanting good PR or employee satisfaction, or can it be a more enlightened self-interest that recognises the longer-term value of a healthy civil society?


  • We also look at the emergence of new business models that combine social purpose and commercial focus. We ask whether the idea of combining a commercial purpose with a social one is actually far older than we often think, and whether we could learn something from the business philanthropists of the past.


  • The impact of the SDGs: We look at the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and ask whether the prominence of businesses in plans to meet these goals could result in philanthropy getting sidelined.


  • Beyond Integrity: we take a look at a report CAF published last year in collaboration with the LSE, highlighting cases where companies have taken action to defend the basic freedoms of civil society, often at apparent odds with their own commercial self-interest. We explore whether these cases represent a wider trend, or whether they are best understood as examples of best practice that other companies should aspire to.



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