Old money VS new money

13 March 2018

We look at 'New Money vs. Old Money' and what the difference between inherited and created wealth means for philanthropy. Topics covered include:

  • Attitudes to Wealth: We explore historical and contemporary evidence to see what differences there might be in the attitudes towards wealth of those who have made or inherited money. We look at the crucial distinction between stewardship and ownership, the role of social status, and the recognition of the element of luck and the existence of a social contract.
  • Future Money and Precommitment: We look at economic evidence about the power of making pledges or commitments to give at a later date, and how these best work. We highlight practical examples or pledges, such as the Giving Pledge, or the 1-1-1 corporate giving model. We also touch on the curious story of the gambling philanthropist, Baron Hirsch.
  • Cryptophilanthropy? We consider whether the money being made by early adopter of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could be harnessed for philanthropy. Does this represent a totally new form of wealth, with its own characteristics? And could this present challenges for charities trying to tap into it? What wider lessons might we learn for future fundraising?

Related material

From HODL to GIEV? The opportunities and challenges of cryptophilanthropy

Public Good by Private Means: How philanthropy shapes Britain

If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich? Turns out it’s just chance. (MIT Technology Review article)

Meyvis, T., Bennett, A. & Oppenheimer, D. (2011). "Precommitment to Charity" in Oppenheimer, D. ed. (2016)

The Science of Giving: Experimental Approaches to the Study of Charity, Routledge.

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



Speaker profile: Rhodri Davies

Rhodri's specialist areas include philanthropy, history of philanthropy, the future of giving, Blockchain/Bitcoin and charity, artificial intelligence and giving, augmented/virtual reality and charity and the science of charitable giving.


Our project to create a world where new technologies and social trends have a positive impact on the future of civil society.

Giving Thought think-tank

Giving Thought is where we consider the key challenges facing civil society globally, explore how and why people give, and test radical new ideas that could shape the future of charity.