Philanthropy and technology

30 January 2018

In this episode Rhodri takes a look at the relationship between philanthropy and technology. Including:

  • Supporting technology: How has philanthropy has supported the development of new technologies over the years? We look at the rich history of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Department of Natural Sciences and the growth of the open source movement. We also consider the blurred lines between long-term tech investment and philanthropy, and the “moonshot” approach of Silicon Valley figures like Elon Musk.
  • Harnessing Technology: How have philanthropic organisations used new technologies to further their missions? We consider some current examples of “Tech for Good”, and take a brief detour into the history of Victorian chimney sweeps to see how similar approaches have been used in the past.
  • Challenging Technology: New technologies may have negative as well as positive impacts, and charitable organisations are often required to play a part in addressing these problems. What new social and environmental challenges might disruptive technologies pose in the future, that charities will be called upon to help solve? What role can philanthropy play now in helping to avoid some of the potential downsides of new technology?

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.