7 January 2020

What big political, economic, technological and social issues are going to shape the coming year for charities and civil society? We gaze into out crystal ball to give some 2020 predictions in our first Giving Thought podcast of the year.

Politics and Economics

  • Will there be greater UK political stability as our political landscape now fixed for 5 yrs?
  • Can we expect increased or reduced division? Post-Brexit healing, or ongoing animosity?
  • Should charities focus on service delivery rather than campaigning?
  • Will international development and aid be under fire?
  • Are we moving towards localism and devolution?
  • Expecting a big impact from the US election 


  • An increasing focus on the environment and a sense of urgency
  • The UK is hosting the 2020 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow
  • There is a more prevalent sense that environmental issues are cross-cutting and therefore the concern of all Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and funders
  • Pressure is increasing on charities/funders to demonstrate environmental commitment


  • More commercial platforms adding giving functionality
  • Deepfakes and challenges to online authenticity
  • Surveillance tech and civil liberties/human rights
  • Centralised cryptocurrencies (e.g. Libra)
  • Blockchain continue to bubble under surface
  • Less magical thinking around AI, focusing on what it actually is and what it can do
  • Optimizing for voice controlled interfaces
  • Pushback on “AI ethics”, more focus on traditional mechanisms of legislation and regulation
  • CSOs and funders ramping up efforts to engage in “fourth industrial revolution” issues
  • Continued growth of networked digital movements and decentralised organisational structures
  • Will we be rediscovering the downsides of decentralisation?

Philanthropy and Civil Society

  • Addressing the decline in charitable giving
  • How do traditional forms of giving/charity interact with new possibilities; social investment, cause-related marketing, networked social movements and crowdfunding?
  • Continuing criticism of philanthropy
  • Scrutiny of sources of wealth
  • Pushback on criticism of philanthropy
  • More focus on power and participation in philanthropy
  • Trust and accountability to public opinion
  • Focus on volunteering; the Olympics, Euro 2020 etc.
Rhodri Davies

Rhodri Davies

Head of Policy

Rhodri leads Giving Thought, our in-house think tank focusing on current and future issues affecting philanthropy and civil society. Rhodri has spent nearly a decade specialising in public policy around philanthropy and the work of charities, and has researched, written and presented on a wide range of topics. He has a first-class degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.   Read more about Rhodri



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