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A champion for charities

Working to strengthen civil society and transform more lives and communities around the world.

Charities Aid Foundation


11 October 2017

Each year, CAF attends the political party conferences as a way of making sure that our policy work – and the needs of charities – are on the political agenda.

It’s the one time in the year when all of the key figures from the political world are easily accessible, and an important opportunity to build ties with them and secure support for new, innovative ideas.

This year, CAF had a number of different focuses. We used our party conference stand to talk about how we can use the UK’s soft power to grow civil society across the world, making the most of our international aid budget by using some of that to build civil society infrastructure in developing economies.

Andy Burnham MP CAF fringe 2017 380 220
Priti Patel MP

Research carried out by CAF found that if people in the newly emerging global middle class give as generously as people in the UK give to charities, it could unlock $350billion a year for good causes by 2030.

We used our ‘soft power station’ stand to promote this idea to politicians, engaging with leading figures across the spectrum such as Priti Patel and Diane Abbott, as well as members of both Labour and Conservative’s foreign affairs teams.

This topic formed the basis of events at those two conferences too, where experts in the international field such as Andrew Mitchell, former Secretary of State for International Development, and Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods, part of Labour’s Shadow International Development team, joined us and Barrow Cadbury Trust for a discussion on how to boost global philanthropy, as well as the need to set a positive example for civil society here in the UK.

We also used conference season to talk about one of our key projects in the UK – building a new, civic philanthropy that encourages people to come together in their local areas to give for social good. This is particularly relevant as devolution increases, with powers being distributed to a local level, and there is a growing political debate about the importance of place and identity in the modern world.

Events at Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative conferences (the latter two in partnership with Devo Connect, New Philanthropy Capital and Barrow Cadbury Trust) discussed how we can harness the power of local giving. Highlights included contributions from Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham, Damian Collins MP, who chairs the Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Baroness Thornhill, elected mayor of Watford.

Lib Dems

Last, but by no means least, our final conference event took place in Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations where we held an event at SNP conference. Building on our recently released Scotland Giving report, this gave figures including Linda Fabiani MSP, the opportunity to explore the way that people in Scotland give to good causes, and how charities and government can work collaboratively to maximise their impact.


Party conference season this year saw us leave politicians working at a local, national and international level brimming with ideas and enthusiasm for CAF’s work. We’ll be building on the relationships we developed and interest generated in the coming months in order to cement and grow the role that charity plays both in the UK and abroad.

Steve Clapperton