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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.

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Comment and Insight

  • 14 April 2014 

    Review of 'The sock doctrine'

    The prominent free-market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) recently released a follow-up to its controversial 2012 report, Sock Puppets.
  • 9 April 2014 

    Why Brooks Newmark was wrong to criticise charities for being political

    The new Minister for Civil Society, Brooks Newmark, has managed to get off on the wrong foot with charities after it was reported that he said they should, “stick to their knitting” and stay out of “the realm of politics.”
  • 20 March 2014 

    Is the focus on star philanthropy unhealthy?

    Philanthropy of the wealthy is laudable but a healthy civil society is built on ordinary people's generosity. We should do more to celebrate the latter.
  • 12 October 2013 

    The Lobbying Bill

    What will it mean for the UK's global reputation?
  • 1 September 2013 

    Development aid and its discontents

    A lively discourse on the  effectiveness of state international aid is healthy. Where spending occurs overseas it is more important than ever for the electorate to scrutinise and question decisions and outcomes.


The culture of philanthropy discussed at the 2017 ACF Annual Conference

Rhodri Davies discusses social inequality and how successful philanthropy from the past can guide the future of giving.

NAVCA's 2018 Forging Community Conference

Rhodri Davies in the Revolutionaries Roundtable, speaking about the impact of emerging dispruptive technologies on charity.

CAF at Tech:UK Blockchain for Good Event May 2018

Rhodri Davies talks about the speed of technological change and how tech will benefit, and challenge, charity.


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From the margins to the mainstream

In this paper we explore what a range of historical examples can tell us about the complex relationship between philanthropic funders and movements that have sought to further diversity, equity and inclusion.

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...


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Philanthropy, diversity and inclusion podcast

We look at the relationship between philanthropy, diversity and inclusion, and explore the role philanthropy has played in campaigns for social change.

Listen to the podcast
Uganda and Gorundwork for Growing Giving CAF

Growing giving around the world

With as many as 2.4 billion people set to join the world’s middle classes by 2030 we want to transform their communities through giving.

Discover our campaign to build giving across the world
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Podcast: Philanthropy, civil rights and movement capture

We talk to Megan Ming Francis about her recent paper and her work on the role of philanthropic funders in supporting the civil rights movement.