Learning from the history of philanthropy, with Ben Soskis

26 June 2018

Rhod is joined by Ben Soskis, a Fellow at the Urban Institute and editor of HistPhil.org, for a wide-ranging (and quite long!) chat about the history of philanthropy and what it can teach us about the big challenges facing charities and donors today. They talked about all sorts of things, such as:

  • Why is studying the history of philanthropy worthwhile, and what are the limitations of historical comparison?
  • What are the most telling criticisms of philanthropy that have been seen through the ages?
  • Which supposedly “new” developments in philanthropy actually have historical precedents? What, if anything, is genuinely new?
  • Is philanthropy anti-democratic? Can that sometimes be a good thing?
  • Why have power dynamics always been such a challenge for philanthropy, and what efforts have been taken to overcome this challenge?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing philanthropy in the US right now?

About the Giving Thought podcast

The Giving Thought podcast is an exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society.  Since launching in May 2017, the podcast has become recognised as an insightful and influential source of philanthropic debate. 

In each episode Rhodri Davies, Director of our Giving Thought Think Tank, and guests, take a contemporary issue in philanthropy and civil society and break it down into three manageable chunks, giving an overview of the extensive work they have done on the subject.  Episodes are also available free on iTunes and Libsyn.

Visit the Giving Thought podcast library

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



Philanthropy in the age of Brexit and Trump

Will a political shift lead to changes in attitudes towards philanthropy and civil society?

Wealth, religion and social status: philanthropy in London

Our Head of Policy, Rhodri Davies, talks about how philanthropy has evolved in the capital.

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.