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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 3, 2021

In this episode we talk to Stelio Stefanou OBE, philanthropist and Founder of the For Baby’s Sake Trust (FBST) - a charity which focuses on working with parents to address the impact of domestic violence on the early years development of children. In a wide-ranging conversation, we discussed:


  • Is “philanthropist” a helpful or unhelpful word?
  • How does a business background shape approaches to philanthropy?
  • Why is it important to recognise that success in business doesn’t automatically equate to expertise about social issues or the work of charities?
  • Why is an evidence base so crucial to the work of FBST? How has the organisation worked with academics to build that evidence base?
  • How important is it that philanthropy looks beyond addressing symptoms and tries to address underlying causes?
  • Are there challenges to combining advocacy with direct provision of services, or do the two naturally go hand-in-hand?
  • How has the pandemic affected the work of FBST?
  • What, if anything, is the USP of philanthropy in relation to the public or private sector?
  • Does the ability of philanthropy to work over a longer time horizon make it better suited to supporting early interventions?
  • Do you see yourself as having any responsibility to encourage other wealthy people to give, or is giving entirely down to personal choice?
  • Should philanthropists see themselves as having any responsibility to encourage other wealthy people to give, or is giving entirely down to personal choice?
  • Is there a danger that the growing wave of scepticism, and even cynicism towards philanthropy, will have a negative impact on people’s willingness to give?
  • Des fear of “failure” hold some wealthy people back from engaging in philanthropy? How should we understand failure in philanthropy (and how is this different to failure in the public or private sector?)


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