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.

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  • 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).
  • 13 September 2013 

    Zero-sum giving: Will an incentive for social investment affect charitable donations?

    In amongst a slew of other things that needed doing over the summer, I found time over the last month or so to work with the social investment experts at CAF Venturesome to craft a response to the Government’s consultation on a new social investment tax incentive.
  • 27 August 2013 

    Giving in America

    This week has seen the release of refreshed data and once again features a number of eye-opening statistics.
  • 28 May 2013 

    Nudging the nation

    Over recent months the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has been working with the Cabinet Office’s behaviour insights team to investigate the potential impact that the usage of ‘nudge’ theory could have on the charity sector.
  • 23 August 2012 

    The Star-Spangled Giver: charitable giving in the USA

    This week has seen the launch of a fascinating special report by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, entitled “How America Gives'.  Read our review.


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 May 2018

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

Public Good by Private Means Book Launch

CAF CEO, Sir John Low, 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...


Riding the Tiger of Technological Change

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

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.