Giving Thought


What makes us give and how do we do it?


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.

  • 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).
  • 7 January 2015

    Transparently Wrong: The (many) problems with the CPS report on charity funding

    Yesterday saw the publication of the Centre for Policy Studies new report "Transparency Begins at Home: Why Charities Must State Who Funds Them".
  • 19 May 2015

    Is our approach to encouraging charitable giving totally wrong?

    An intriguing op ed in the New York Times this week (“How to get people to pitch in”) argued that traditional approaches to encouraging cooperation and pro-social behaviour by offering monetary rewards or subsidies may be totally wrong-headed, and that harnessing the power of “social incentives” by using peer group effects would be far more effective.
  • 7 August 2015

    Uneven Foundations

    I attended the launch last week of the Directory of Social Change’s new UK Grant-making Trusts and Foundations report. This attempts, perhaps for the first time, to present a picture of the scale and pattern of funding by grant-making trusts and foundations in the UK.
  • 19 November 2015

    Creature Discomfort

    An interesting article caught my eye this week. It was a piece in the Guardian Comment is Free section by the prominent proponent of Effective Altruism (EA), William MacAskill (author of current EA central text “Doing Good Better”) entitled “The truth about animal charities, cats and dogs”.


Block & Tackle | Could blockchain technology transform charity regulation?

Rhodri Davies talks about out report Block & Tackle, in which we consider the possibility of using blockchain technology to create civil society organisations.

CAF at Tech:UK Blockchain for Good Event

Rhodri Davies talks about our work at a Tech:UK event in May 2017

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



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...


What do the tech trends for 2017 mean for philanthropy?

The implications of various tech developments for philanthropy are explored by Rhodri Davies, Policy Manager.

Future World Giving

This project created a policy framework to help governments seize the potential for rapidly growing middle class populations to engage in philanthropy.

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.