Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

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

Finally, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or your podcast provider of choice.

May 14, 2019

In episode 49, we explore some of the issues brought to light by the recent devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the immediate philanthropic response. Including:


-Does the Notre Dame response demonstrate there is untapped philanthropic potential out there?

-Why will people respond so readily to a damaged building, but ongoing efforts to address issues of human poverty and suffering remain hard to fundraise for?

-Does this story illustrate that philanthropy is inherently irrational? If so, what should our conclusion be?

-What is it about the Notre Dame disaster that has brought about such an unprecedented response?

-Should we be grateful to the mega-donors who have pledged millions to Notre Dame, or ask what they are getting in return in terms of social status and legitimacy?

-Do we need to scrutinise the source of wealth of these mega-donors, and whether they have paid their fair share of tax, and balance this against their desire to do good through giving?

-If we agree that rebuilding Notre Dame constitutes a public good, should the French government pay for it through taxation and public spending?

-Is it right for mega-donors to get tax breaks on their gifts to Notre Dame? Should they even get bigger tax breaks, as some have suggested?

-What lessons can we take from this story for the wider debates about philanthropy?



Related Content

-My mammoth Twitter thread on Notre Dame (and a nice one-page version)

-The "Criticisms of Philanthropy" chapter from my book Public Good by Private Means

-Another extract from my book, about Arts & Culture philanthropy

-"Everything Old is New Again", Alliance Magazine


-Meet The Philanthropists: A good pint - the brewing industry’s race to give

-Previous Giving Thought podcast on "Is Philanthropy Rational?"

-Neil Evans 1982 paper "Urbanisation, Elite Attitudes & Philanthropy in Cardiff 1850-1914"