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Giving Thought


Looking at the evidence to better understand and grow giving.


What makes people give, how do they do it, and what are the tools available to policymakers and others to drive more and better giving?

In order to boost civil society by building stronger cultures of giving around the world, we need to understand how giving works.

Here we explore what makes giving tick by looking at the available evidence. This includes data about global trends in giving, insight from practice and findings from academic study.

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  • 11 December 2013 

    Lessons from Panorama: Should charities invest ethically?

    BBC Panorama this week took aim at charities in an episode entitled "All in a good cause". There had been quite a bit of controversy in the run up to the programme being aired, as one of its targets was Comic Relief, the charity with which the BBC has a longstanding funding relationship.
  • 10 April 2014 

    Not a measured approach?

    Does the Hewlett Foundation’s decision indicate the failure of impact-measuring approaches to philanthropy?
  • 7 May 2014 

    Doing well and doing good: can charities be social investors?

    The Law Commission last week put out a consultation on "Social Investment by chariteis". Having now read through the document I thought it was worth a quick blog post to highlight why I think this consultation is important and what it means for charities.
  • 12 August 2014 

    Ice, Ice baby: is the ice bucket challenge bad for charity?

    A lot of words have already been written about the ice-bucket challenge. Which is unsurprising: it’s about social media and charity and wet celebrities, so it’s basically at the nexus of what makes a good tabloid news story.
  • 15 September 2014 

    Are charities in danger of being left behind by social investment?

    Today has seen the launch of the first report of the G8’s Social Impact Investment Taskforce. CAF also has a report out on social investment today – Returns Policy: what the nest decade holds for social investment.
  • 27 November 2013 

    Are some causes better than others? The “effective altruism” debate

    The normally fairly staid (and it has to be said, niche) world of theoretical philanthropy has been shaken up this week by a surprising polemic in the pages of the Stanford Social Innovation Review (not an organ noted for its hysterical tone).
  • 22 August 2011 

    How do you get something for nothing?

    That’s a question that seems to interest those in government tasked with coming up with policies to promote giving.


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Place-based giving

We believe the time is now to look again at philanthropy, not only as a route to financial investment, but also as a way of reconnecting people with places and spaces.

Visit our place-based giving hub
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Bringing diverse communities together; podcast

We talk to Jim MInton of Toynbee Hall, based in London's East End, about the the role of local civil society organisations.

Listen to the podcast

CAF at Tech:UK Blockchain for Good Event May 2018

Rhodri Davies talks about the speed of technological change and how tech will benefit, and challenge, charity.



Donation States: An international comparison of the tax treatment of donations

This report compares the tax treatment of charitable donations in 26 countries around the world. It identifies examples of best practice as well to see how governments can best use tax policy to encourage giving.
This report compares the tax treatment of...

Gross Domestic Philanthropy: An international analysis of GDP, tax and giving

This report looks at available data for 24 countries to examine some of the factors affecting the link between GDP and charitable giving. It finds that the assumption that a smaller state and lower tax means more giving may not be well-founded.
This report looks at available data for 24...

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

The 'Give Me a Break' 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 'Give Me a Break' report calls for a...


Riding the Tiger of Technological Change

Technology is opening up new opportunities to empower marginalized and disenfranchised communities around the world.

Giving in a World Without Work?

Rhodri Davies, Policy Manager, explores automation, Universal Basic Income and the future of philanthropy,

Public Good by Private Means

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