27 October 2020

In this episode, we talk to Louise Pulford, Josiane Smith and Dame Julia Unwin about the findings from a new global horizon scan by the Social Innovation Exchange (SIX), looking at the challenges and opportunities facing philanthropy post-Covid. In a wide-ranging conversation we discussed:

  • How many trends in philanthropic funding we are seeing during the pandemic will lead to longer-term changes? How can we be more intentional about pursuing those we want to see?
  • How has the pandemic accelerated or altered existing debates about philanthropy?
  • What can we learn from historical examples of how philanthropy has responded to crises? Or from places in the world where crisis response is part of the normal role for philanthropy?
  • To what extent is it true that “what we did before a crisis is who we are in a crisis”? i.e. is the response of different funders a reflection of their existing ethos and practice, or have some genuinely changed what they do?
  • How do funders balance the immediate short-term demands of a crisis with their role in supporting issues over the longer-term?
  • Has the pandemic affected relationships between philanthropic funders and government around the world? If so, for better or worse?
  • We are seeing the emergence of new organisational models within civil society, including many that look less like traditional hierarchies and more like networks. What opportunities and challenges might this bring?
  • We are also seeing new approaches such as participatory grantmaking, which seek to shift power as well as money towards recipients, gain traction? Will this be a big trend in coming years?
  • Do charities and funders need to be more transparent? If so, why and about what? Who does it benefit?
  • What is the core role of philanthropy within society which differentiates it from either state or market provision?
  • What should we make of criticisms that since philanthropy is to some extent a product of structural inequality, it can never truly be part of the solution? Do some donors and funders recognise the challenges and are genuinely pursuing structural change?
  • Should cross-cutting issues such as the climate crisis or racial justice not be seen as “causes”, but as factors that all funders need to take into account in their work?
  • How can we ensure funders and CSOs are in a better position to address future crises?

Bonus segment - Louise interviews Rhodri:


julia unwin
Dame Julia Unwin DBE FAcSS

Josiane Smith
Josiane Smith, Key Programmes Lead for the SIX Wayfinder and Funders Node
louise pulford
Louise Pulford, CEO of SIX

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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