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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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Aug 14, 2017

In episode 7 of the Giving Thought podcast Rhod and Adam take a look at the origins of philanthropy, including:


  • Altruism and Evolution: why does the existence of altruistic behaviour continue to present a significant challenge for evolutionary theory? Can this add to our understanding of philanthropy, and if so how?

  • A Brief History of Western Philanthropy: we attempt to cover the 450 or so years since the birth of modern philanthropy in roughly 3 minutes. Including: the Reformation and its role in the emergence of secular forms of giving, the development of associational philanthropy and the charitable organisation, the use of social research and the role of philanthropy in shaping state provision of welfare.

  • Non-western philanthropic traditions: we look at some of the other traditions of giving around the world, and ask whether efforts to develop a philanthropic culture should do more to build on these existing forms of generosity and altruism.



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