9 July 2019

In episode 53 we explore how philanthropy and civil society has become structured over time, what the drivers for this are, and what new possibilities the future may hold. Including:

  • The Reformation and the dismantling of medieval catholic infrastructure for giving
  • Urbanisation, poverty and associated philanthropy
  • The charitable/philanthropic tradition vs the mutual/cooperative tradition in the UK
  • Concerns about 'faction' and voluntary association in the US
  • Benefits of structure: coordination, economies of scale, setting and maintaining strategy, separating the individual from their role, making rules explicit
  • Structure and power: formalisation as a form of social control?
  • Endowed structures: foundations, trusts and waqf
  • Nonprofit and charity structures in the UK and US
  • Donor Advised Funds and Charitable Remainder Trusts
  • Non-traditional structures: LLCs, B Corps etc.
  • Disintermediating giving: direct cash transfers and crowdfunding
  • Network social movements and the "Tyranny of Structurelessness'

Related links

Rhodri's book, Public Good by Private Means: How philanthropy shapes Britain

Dobkin Hall, P. (1999) “Resolving the Dilemmas of Democratic Governance: The Historical Development of Trusteeship in America, 1636-1996” in Condliffe Lagemann (ed) Philanthropic Foundations: New Scholarship, New Possibilities

Morris, R.J. (1990) “Clubs, Societies & Associations” in Thompson (ed) The Cambridge Social History of Britain vol 3.

Morris, R.J. (1983) “Voluntary Societies and British Urban Elites, 1780-1850: An Analysis”, The Historical Journal, vol 26, No. 1

Davies (2014)“Give Me a Break: Why the UK should not aspire to a ‘US-style’ culture of charitable giving”, Giving Thought discussion paper

My piece for HistPhil on “Networked Social Movements and the “Tyranny of Structurelessness'
rochdale pioneers museum

Cooperative tradition

The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers are widely recognised as the first UK Cooperative. It was formed in 1844 by a group of 28 weavers and skilled workers in other trades. They created business principles then seen as radical to guide their work and established a shop, now Rochdale Pioneers museum, in which to sell their goods.

About the Giving Thought podcast

The Giving Thought podcast is an exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society. Launched in 2017 it is recognised as an insightful and influential source of philanthropic debate.  Rhodri Davies director of our Giving Thought Think Tank hosts the podcast, discussing contemporary issues and interviewing sector experts. 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



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