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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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May 19, 2020

In episode 76 we talk to global philanthropy expert Kris Putnam-Walkerly about her new book “Delusional Altruism”, and about how philanthropists and funders are being affected by - and responding to - the COVID-19 pandemic. Including:


  • What is “delusional altruism”?
  • Why does a scarcity mind-set affect so many donors and funders? Is this particular to philanthropy?
  • Why is the “overhead myth” so prevalent, and why is it so problematic?
  • Are there signs that funders are changing their behaviour during the current crisis? (Moving to unrestricted funding, trust-based grantmaking etc.) Is this likely to lead to longer-term changes?
  • How many donors are willing to give away power as well as money? (And will the current crisis put even more focus on approaches such as participatory grantmaking?)
  • Do we need to redefine what is perceived as “failure” in philanthropy?
  • How many donors see funding advocacy as a course of action, rather than direct services? If it is less common, why is that?
  • How can we balance the imperative to respond to short-term needs in a crisis with ensuring that philanthropy makes the most of its strengths in taking a longer-term view? What does this mean for current debates on spending down endowments?
  • How should we rate philanthropy’s response to the current crisis?
  • Will anything fundamentally change as a result of what we are going through? If so, what?



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