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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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Nov 24, 2020

In this episode we talk to Asha Curran, CEO of Giving Tuesday - ahead of this year’s event on Tuesday 2nd December -about distributed leadership, movement building and the importance of mass giving. Including:

Decentralisation & Social Movements

  • What is the key appeal of networked movements? Do people believe they are more effective (particularly when it comes to huge global challenges that might require radical solutions, like the climate crisis and racial inequality/injustice) or is it more about their ability to democratize participation and offer more active modes of engagement?
  • How can traditional nonprofits embrace some of the benefits of networked or decentralized approaches? Does this require a major change of structure, or just mindset?

Distributed leadership, new power and leaderlessness

  • GT is a combination of elements with formal structure and many informal elements - how do these different parts of the movement interact?
  • How much centralised input is there in shaping/setting parameters for the formal elements?
  • Are there necessary limits on the freedom of informal elements? (E.g. parameters/red lines on what can be associated with GT brand, even informally) How are these set and policed?
  • How do you manage power dynamics within a decentralised movement to prevent the emergence of hidden cliques/elites, and to ensure that everyone’s voice can be heard equally?

Mass giving

  • Can mass giving movements like GT help to counter concerns about the potentially anti-democratic impact of big money philanthropy?
  • As GT has developed into a global movement, how has this informed your understanding of what we should think of as “giving”?
  • Can GT help us to develop a better global perspective & understand differences and similarities between cultures of giving around the world?
  • Do different countries around the world place more emphasis on non-financial giving in their approaches to GT? Has this had an impact on thinking in the US?
  • What is the idea behind the Starling Collective? How does this fit with the wider work of Giving Tuesday?

Platforms, philanthropy & civil society

  • Is there an important role for movements like GT in ensuring that as more giving shifts to the online world, we have platforms and infrastructure that is driven by civil society values rather than ceding control of online giving to commercial platforms (who may wish to offer giving functionality as an add-on for users)?
  • What responsibilities do giving platforms have towards those giving and receiving through them? Are they ever neutral intermediaries, or do they need to accept a more active role in informing donors, assessing recipients etc?


  • What is the Giving Tuesday Data Collaborative? How did it come about?
  • What have you learned about giving trends in the US (and elsewhere) so far through the GTDC?
  • Can we use data to drive more giving/better giving? If so, how?


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