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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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Jun 10, 2019

In episode 51, we explore philanthropic pledges: what are they, do they work and how have they been used to drive more and better giving? Including:


  • Mackenzie Bezos’ recent decision to join the Giving Pledge has been widely reported. But how successful has this initiative been overall?
  • Who are the notable signatories and the notable absences from the Giving Pledge? Why have some people not signed?
  • Has the Giving Pledge shifted the level of giving by the ultra wealthy? Has it had any impact on overall levels of giving?
  • What can we learn from the pledge letters of GP signatories?
  • Does the GP lack the tools to hold signatories to their pledges? Should it?
  • Is the GP’s scope less radical than it might have been, and why?
  • What of other pledge initiatives like the Founders Pledge?
  • Does a pledge represent an expectation that a certain level of wealth comes with responsibilities to give, or is it entirely voluntary?
  • What does academic research tell us about the economics and psychology of pledges?
  • Why are the concepts of “warm glow”, “pain of payment” and “psychological distance” important in understanding how to design effective pledges?
  • How does crowdfunding relate to philanthropic pledges?
  • Could the future be about “conditional donations”, where conditions are set and then donations automatically executed if they are met?



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