Philanthropy, death and taxes; part 1

13 February 2018

In this episode, the first of a two-parter, Rhod looks at the influence of mortality on giving. Topics covered include:

  • The History of Death & Philanthropy: how has mortality shaped modern philanthropy? We look at the phenomenon of competitive eulogies in Tudor England, and the impact of the 1736 Statute odf Mortmain on creating a pluralist charity sector. We also consider the problems that can result from the "dead hand of the donor".
  • Giving while living vs. Waiting til you are gone: We look at the shifting balance between legacy giving and giving during one's lifetime. Have recent years seen a shift towards the latter, with a growing number of spend-down foundations, the establishment of the Giving Pledge and the rise of a breed of young billionaires from Silicon Valley?
  • The Future of Death: Life Extension, Digital Emulation & Wills on the Blockchain: We consider some of the ways in which new technology might solve traditional problems for philanthropy when it comes to death, but also the new challenges it might bring.

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.

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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



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.