14 May 2019

In episode 49, we explore the immediate philanthropic response to the devastating fire at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, and ask:

  • Does the immediate donation of millions of euros by a handful of the very wealthy demonstrate there is untapped philanthropic potential out there?
  • Why will people respond so readily to a damaged building, but ongoing efforts to address issues of human poverty and suffering remain hard to fundraise for?
  • What is it about the Notre-Dame disaster that has brought about such an unprecedented response?
  • Does this illustrate that philanthropy is inherently irrational? If so, what should our conclusion be?
  • Should we be grateful to the mega-donors who pledge millions, or ask what they're getting in return in terms of social status and legitimacy?
  • Is it right for mega-donors to get tax breaks on their gifts to Notre-Dame? Should they even get bigger tax breaks, as some have suggested?
  • Do we need to scrutinise the source of wealth of these mega-donors, and whether they've paid their fair share of tax, and balance this against their desire to do good through giving?
  • If we agree that rebuilding Notre-Dame constitutes a public good, should the French government pay for it through taxation and public spending?
  • What lessons can we take from this story for the wider debates about philanthropy?
Bernard Arnault LVMH chief executive wiki commons by Jeremy Barande
LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault. Luxury goods group LVMH, owner of Louis Vuitton fashions and Moet & Chandon champagne, and its founding Arnault family announced a combined 200 million euros (£173 million) pledge hours after fire ravaged the Paris landmark.

About the Giving Thought podcast

The Giving Thought podcast is an exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society. Launched in 2017 it is recognised as an insightful and influential source of philanthropic debate.  Rhodri Davies director of our Giving Thought Think Tank hosts the podcast, discussing contemporary issues and interviewing sector experts. Episodes are also available free on iTunes and Libsyn.

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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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