May 6, 2020
In episode 75 we take a look at the key issues facing civil
society and philanthropy during the covid-19 pandemic crisis and
beyond. We explore the benefits of historical insight, highlight
some of the main challenges civil society organisations face right
now, and consider the most important questions to ask as we look
ahead to the future. Including:
The history of philanthropy and civil society in times
- Centralization- what can we learn from C18th Hamburg
and WWI in the UK about how crises lead to a desire to rationalise
- How do views on the causes of crises affect the
philanthropic response? Religious views on plagues and the
role of charity, and how the understanding of epidemic
illness affects collectivism and mutualism.
- Poverty, Power & Inequality: The unequal effects
of crises and the dangers- does philanthropy entrench inequality,
or can it help to overcome it?
Key current trends
- Reduced income but increased demand. Many orgs in survival
- Universal nature of crisis makes fundraising ask more complex
(i.e. not “them”, but “us”)
- Enforced pivot to digital - how do you adapt to new tools and
- Funder behaviour: unrestricted grants, core-cost funding,
reduced reporting, trust-based grantmaking
- Collaboration, cooperation & coordination
- New digitally-enabled networks emerging alongside traditional
What might the future hold?
- Will we see a shift in public expectations of state vs
- Will there be a rebalancing of the mutual vs charitable
- Philanthro-localism or philanthro-globalism?
- Will the reputation of philanthropy improve or
- Are decentralised and networked organisational models an
opportunity or a threat for civil society?
- Does the response to the pandemic highlight an unmet desire for
- Will the current period of enforced digitisation lead to more
CSOs engaging with the opportunities and challenges of
- Is the short-term imperative to meet critical need going to
lead to a longer-term desire to rationalise philanthropy?
- Will we see more transparency and sharing of data?
- Are we seeing the end of organisational ego in
- Will there be longer-term changes in attitudes to core costs,
unrestricted grants and reporting requirements?
- Will we see a shift in perception/norms with regard to endowed
- Will there be more recognition of the need for foresight among
funders and civil society?
- Will the crisis create new problems for civil society to