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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.

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Sep 23, 2019

In episode 57, we talk to Rose Longhurst about participation in philanthropy and her experience of radical approaches to grantmaking with Edge Fund (and others). Including:

  • What is Edge Fund, how did it come about, and what are its aims?
  • Where does Edge Fund fit in the wider landscape of participatory grantmaking?
  • How does its approach help to overcome some of the concerns about existing models of philanthropy? i.e. that they are undemocratic, that they fail to redistribute power, that they are incapable of addressing structural inequality?
  • Could more traditional funders replicate the Edge Fund approach? Which elements? And what would they need to change in order to make this happen?
  • There is a lot of focus on participatory approaches to grantmaking at the moment as part of the solution to the criticisms being levelled at philanthropy. How much of the rhetoric is reflected in reality?
  • Are there limits to participatory grantmaking? i.e. are there some situations in which it is better for expert funders to set aims and design programs?
  • Edge Fund itself has adopted a fairly radical, non-hierarchical structure. What is the rationale for this?
  • What are the strengths of non-hierarchical or decentralised structures? What are the weaknesses or challenges?
  • Does a flat structure without clear leaders limit a non-hierarchical organisation’s ability to maintain sustained influence?
  • How do you prevent the emergence of hidden elites, or some groups prospering at the expense of others within a non-hierarchical network? (i.e. “Tyranny of Structurelessness” objections).


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