Giving Thought


How do we strengthen the vital role of civil society within democracy?


Civil society plays a vital role in any healthy democracy. It offers a space in which people can come together to share interests and common goals; and also a means to challenge the failings of current systems and thus improve society.

Here we explore the opportunities for strengthening civil society around the world, and the barriers to doing so. We look at what needs to be done in terms of policy and practice to ensure that civil society can realise its full potential.

  • Liberty
    26 May 2017

    From soft to brittle: US diplomacy, soft power & civil society

    Cuts in funding to the US State Department and new rules restricting the advocacy of the charities it funds threaten to curtail the liberalising soft power of American generosity.

    Read more
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    20 October 2016

    Beyond Integrity: why civil society needs to engage business in defending civic space

    This blog looks at the case for multinational corporations supporting civil society in the face of government repression. dd
    Why does civil society need to get big business on side?
  • image17-venusflytrap-275px
    3 June 2016

    Appealing to the enlightened self-interest of partners to reinforce civil society

    Around the world, civil society freedoms to speak out and challenge the status quo are being eroded.  
    What should the response of funders be?
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    13 October 2015

    Philanthropy and the Global Goals: a brave new world?

    The UN Global Goals are a set of 17 aspirational priorities for global development from now until 2030.
    What do they mean for philanthropy?
  • End corruption
    12 May 2016

    What should civil society expect from the UK anti-corruption summit?

    As government officials and finance professionals meet at the global anti-corruption summit orchestrated by Prime Minister David Cameron, they should be thinking not just about how to protect charities from exposure to corruption, but about how charities can help to combat it.
    Read how charities can help fight corruption


Block & Tackle | Could blockchain technology transform charity regulation?

Rhodri Davies talks about out report Block & Tackle, in which we consider the possibility of using blockchain technology to create civil society organisations.


The Giving Thought Podcast

A bi-weekly exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society

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Public Good by Private Means Book Launch

CAF’s CEO, Dr John Low CBE, introduces Rhodri Davies at the launch of his book, Public Good by Private Means



Do As I Say, Not As I Do: UK policy and the global closing space for civil society

In this report we explore recent policy developments affecting advocacy by civil society organisations in the UK, and the effect these may have on the UK's soft power.
In this report we explore recent policy...

Future World Giving: Enabling an Independent Not-for-profit sector

This report warns that poor legislation on not-for-profit campaigning and independence could jeopardise efforts to promote giving among new generations of middle class people emerging across the world, potentially costing up to $224 billion a year to good causes by 2030.
This report warns that poor legislation on...

Beyond Integrity: Exploring the role of business in preserving the civil society space

This report, produced by CAF in collaboration with the LSE, examines how some companies are going above and beyond their traditional role to protect civic space. It highlights case studies of companies that have championed and stood up for individuals and civil society organisations.
This report, produced by CAF in...


Brave New World 2017

After a year of social and political upheaval, is this philanthropy's finest hour?

Future World Giving

If governments act now the future of philanthropy could be bright, with people all over the world engaging in supporting a vibrant civil society and addressing social needs.

Public Good by Private Means

Read about our new book which tells the story of philanthropy through the ages and how it shapes Britain.