11 December 2018

In episode 39 we look at the relationship between philanthropy and empathy. Including:

  • What does neuroscience tell us about the link between empathy and altruism?
  • The importance of physical proximity
  • Does empathy lead us to prioritise giving to those who are sufficiently “like us”, at the expense of others?
  • How do our unconscious biases affect our empathy? The identifiable victim bias and victim blaming.
  • Is empathy in tension with rationality when it comes to philanthropy?
  • Historical examples of approaches to philanthropy that lacked empathy: home visitations, voting charities and “telescopic philanthropy”
  • Rationality vs empathy throughout history: from the Charity Organization Societies to Effective Altruism?
  • What impact will technology have on our ability to be empathetic in future?
  • How can Virtual Reality be used to drive empathetic responses from donors and supporters?
  • Will tech-enabled ‘filter bubbles’ negatively affect our ability to empathise?
  • Rationality vs Empathy 2.0? Will philanthropy in the future be shaped by VR and experiential technologies, or by AI and data-driven decision making?


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