Giving Thought


Understanding and reimagining civil society and how we support it.


Giving Thought is CAF’s think tank. It’s where we consider the key challenges facing civil society globally, explore how and why people and companies give, and test radical new ideas that could shape the future of charity.

We provide insight and stimulate debate that leads to changes in policy and practice which foster healthier civil society around the world. We explore trends in giving and how developments in society and technology will open up new opportunities for doing good. Our work is divided into four key themes:

Giving Matters

Philanthropy, Politics of giving, History of giving, Philosophy of giving, Inequality, Democracy

Read more on giving matters

Civil Society Matters

Independence, Trust, Campaigning, Advocacy, Rights, Governance,

Why does civil society matter?

The Future Of Doing Good

PhilTech, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, Internet of Things, Social Media, Virtual Reality, Social Investment

What is the future of doing good?

How Giving Works

Public policy, Legislation, Regulation, Tax, Giving trends, Data, World Giving Index, Philanthropy infrastructure, Science of giving, Effective giving

Find out How Giving Works


  • Digital thumprint 275px
    21 July 2017

    Knowing Me, Knowing You: Self-sovereign digital identity and the future of charity

    A fundamental shift in the way that online identity works may be coming. What impact could this have for the work of charities and their relationships with their supporters?
    Find out how identity is changing
  • Mayors robes 275px
    17 July 2017

    Can Mayors help to build a culture of civic philanthropy?

    There is a growing focus on the role of elected mayors as drivers of change at a local level. Can they play a key role in developing a culture of civic philanthropy that can strengthen our towns and cities? And how?
    Find out what mayors can do
  • democracy 275px
    12 July 2017

    Philanthropy: anti-democratic and proud of it?

    Philanthropy can sometimes subvert democracy by allowing a small minority to exert disproportionate influence on public policy. But could this actually be one of philanthropy's great strengths?
    See why going against the grain could be a good thing
  • image12-techeye275px
    18 January 2017

    Algorithm Is Gonna Get You: what the rise of algorithms means for philanthropy

    Algorithms are the automated decision processes that increasingly govern many aspects of our lives and the choices we make.
    What concerns does this raise for philanthropy?
  • image11-fakenews275px
    30 January 2017

    Truth Decay: Philanthropy and the battle against misinformation and fake news

    Does philanthropy have a vital role to play in combating the widely-publicised threat of “fake news”? 
    We look at what this role might be


Public Good by Private Means Book Launch

CAF’s CEO, Dr John Low CBE, introduces Rhodri Davies at the launch of his book, Public Good by Private Means

The Giving Thought Podcast

A bi-weekly exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society

Visit our podcast library

Brave New World 2017

Rhodri Davies talking about the challenges and opportunities facing philanthropy in 2017 and beyond


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Chain Links- The role of mayors in building a culture of philanthropy

In this discussion paper - as part of the "Giving for the City" project- we look at the role that mayors can play in building a culture of civic philanthropy in our towns and cities.
In this discussion paper - as part of the...
Decentralised (128)

Losing the Middle, Keeping the Heart: Blockchain, DAOs & the decentralised future of charity

In this discussion paper we explore the ways in which the decentralising effects of blockchain technology could transform philanthropy and the structure of charitable organisations.
In this discussion paper we explore the ways...

Block & Tackle: using blockchain technology to create and regulate civil society organisations

In this paper we ask whether blockchain technology could be used to create charities and other civil society organisations. This could transform how charities operate and the ways in which they are regulated
In this paper we ask whether blockchain...

Do As I Say, Not As I Do: UK policy and the global closing space for civil society

In this report we explore recent policy developments affecting advocacy by civil society organisations in the UK, and the effect these may have on the UK's soft power.
In this report we explore recent policy...

Giving Unchained: Philanthropy and the blockchain

The blockchain is the technology that makes Bitcoin possible, and experts now believe it has far wider applications in all sorts of areas. In this paper we explore some of the ways in which blockchain tech could transform giving.
The blockchain is the technology that makes...

Giving a Bit(coin): Cryptocurrency and philanthropy

In this paper we look at some of the unique features of new 'cryptocurrencies' such as Bitcoin, and how they could bring benefits for philanthropy and the work of charities.
In this paper we look at some of the unique...
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Return Policy - What the next decade means for social investment

The report outlines the issues facing both the supply and demand sides of the market, and some of the challenges these present to policymakers and practitioners.
The report outlines the issues facing both...

Give Me a Break: Why the UK should not aspire to a “US-style” culture of charitable giving

The report calls for a better understanding of what we can learn from America, so that we can incorporate it into a uniquely British culture of philanthropy.
The report calls for a better understanding...


Rhodri Davies

Programme Leader, Giving Thought

Rhodri is Head of our Giving Thought programme. He joined in 2010 and is responsible for formulating and communicating our policy positions on a wide range of topics including philanthropy, tax reliefs for giving, social investment and CSR/CCI.

T: +44 3000 123 221

Adam Pickering

International Policy Manager, Giving Thought

Adam Pickering is responsible for developing our global policy positions and and writes and speaks widely on global trends in philanthropy and non-profit law. Adam is currently leading the Future World Giving project, which seeks to create a policy framework that will help governments seize the potential for rapidly growing middle class populations to engage in philanthropy.

T: +44 3000 123 229


Podcast and Video

Hear the lastest insight and debate from the Giving Thought think-tank

Public Good by Private Means

Our book tells the story of philanthropy through the ages, and examines the relationship between philanthropists, the state and society.

Publications by Giving Thought

Read about Giving Matters, Civil Society Matters, How Giving Works and the Future of Doing Good.