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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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Jan 29, 2019

 In episode 42 we chat to Krystian Seibert, an Industry Fellow at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. We discuss the current wave of critiques of philanthropy, why criticism is important, how to make that criticism constructive and what the response from policy and lawmakers should be. Including:

  • How do we criticise ‘well’?
  • Is some criticism in danger of ‘preaching to the converted’?
  • To what extent does personal philosophy or ideology dictate how receptive you are to certain criticisms?
  • Which criticism of philanthropy is hardest to answer?
  • How much do the current US-focussed critiques resonate elsewhere (e.g. the UK or Australia)?
  • Is there an argument to change how philanthropy is regulated by the state?
  • How do we balance the freedom to make individual philanthropic choices with the responsibility to ensure philanthropy doesn’t create greater inequality?
  • In the US the focus has been on the potential for philanthropy to subvert democracy by offering a means of influence outside the electoral system. Yet in many other places, the concern is the opposite: that the ability of civil society (funded by philanthropy) to campaign is being stifled. How do we square these two concerns?
  • Should more philanthropic funders support journalism or other mechanisms that can hold philanthropy itself to account?
  • Is there an inherent power imbalance in philanthropy, between those who have the assets and those that require them? Can we address this balance, and if so how?
  • Do we need to make philanthropic decisions more democratic? If so, how?
  • Do we need to make philanthropy more accountable to the people and communities it is supposed to serve? If so, how?


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