Philanthropy and the welfare state

18 November 2018

We explore the relationship between philanthropy and the notion of a Welfare State. We look at the role philanthropy played in the origins of state welfare, what economics and other sciences can tell us about the relationship between the two, and how we should view the role of philanthropy in relation to the state today. Including:
  • The history of the back-and-forth relationship between philanthropy and state in the UK
  • Why did some think the birth of the Welfare State should have spelt the end for philanthropy?
  • Is there a relationship between the size of the state and levels of giving?
  • Does state welfare provision necessarily "crowd out" philanthropy? Or could it actually "crowd it in"?
  • The importance of charitable campaigning within the welfare state
  • The emergence of outsourcing and public service commissioning
  • Are we now seeing a backlash against public service delivery by charities?


Useful links

My piece on “The UK Civil Society Strategy and The History of State vs Philanthropic Welfare Provision” for

Davies, R (2016) Public Good by Private Means: How philanthropy shapes Britain, Chapter 2 “Philanthropy and Welfare”

CAF (2016), Gross Domestic Philanthropy: An international analysis of tax, GDP & giving

Andreoni & Payne, (2009) Is crowding out entirely due to fundraising?, Journal of Public Economics 95

Andreoni & Payne, (2003) Do Government Grants to Private Charities Crowd Out Giving or Fund-raising?, American Economic Review No 93 vol 3.

Andreoni (1993) An Experimental Test of the Crowding Out Hypothesis, The American Economic Review No 83 vol 5.

CAF Giving Thought blog (2018) ‘Initial thoughts on the Civil Society Strategy

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



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.

Disruptive Technology, Philanthropy & Civil Society

Discover the potential for technology to influence philanthropy, and how philanthropy support organizations fit into this discussion.

Wealth, religion and social status: philanthropy in London

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