Philanthropy in the 21st century


Understanding and tackling the challenges facing our communities


There has been a great deal of political focus in recent years on trying to address the challenges facing our towns and cities. It is widely recognised that many areas of the UK have suffered economically, as the traditional industries which fuelled their growth have declined. At the same time, a North-South divide has opened up as wealth and employment become increasingly concentrated in London and the South East.

As policy makers start to think about addressing this gap, with an increasing focus on devolution, city deals and the introduction of programmes like the "Northern Powerhouse" and the "Midlands Engine", there is undoubtedly an opportunity to start revitalising our towns and cities. And yet, one element that has been absent from many of the political discussions on this topic is philanthropy, and the role it can play in driving local investment into local communities.

We believe the time is now to look again at philanthropy, not only as a route to financial investment, but also as a way of reconnecting people with places and spaces.

Read our report: Giving a Sense of Place

national democracy week logoPlace-Based giving and National Democracy Week

14 October 2019

As part of National Democracy Week’s mission to increase democratic participation, the Charities Aid Foundation has outlined the role that local government can play in developing place-based giving in their communities.
Our recommendations show how civic leaders can use their unique position to bring together local government, business and donors for public benefit and civic renewal.

Read our Democracy Week briefing


  • To usher in a new age of civic philanthropy, helping our towns and cities adapt to the challenges and opportunities of the coming decades
  • To encourage businesses, community groups and local residents to work together to tackle problems in their local area
  • To encourage people to feel proud of their community, and to want to give back to it
  • With policy makers to consider philanthropy as part of their plans for towns and cities 
  • With directly elected Mayors to develop a clear narrative and vision about the role of philanthropy in their town, city or region
  • To make philanthropy a key part of future plans for devolution and localism

Our recommendations for the future of civic philanthropy

In our publications Giving in a Sense of Place and Chain Links, we lay out our recommendations for the future of civic philanthropy.
city skyline report

Giving a Sense of Place: Philanthropy and the future of UK civic identity

In this report - part of the "Giving for the City" project - we look at the the role that philanthropy can play in towns and cities around the UK, and what needs to be done to build a new golden age of civic philanthropy in this country.
In this report - part of the "Giving for the...
Mayor's robes 128px

Chain Links - The role of mayors in building a culture of philanthropy

In this discussion paper - as part of the "Giving for the City" project- we look at the role that mayors can play in building a culture of civic philanthropy in our towns and cities.
In this discussion paper - as part of the...

Place-based giving campaign blog

In our blog we review the latest developments on place-based giving, and discuss the challenges and opportunities facing civic philanthropy.

  • 14 February 2019 

    What we learnt from Parliament’s debate on supporting charities and volunteers

    On 13 February 2019, there was a general debate in the House of Commons on ‘Connecting communities by supporting charities and volunteers’. So what did MP's say during this important debate? Here's our round-up.
  • 15 August 2018 

    Awkward Places: Austerity, democracy and the challenges of civic philanthropy

    Civic philanthropy is on the rise right now. Many policymakers and funders are exploring the benefits of taking a place-based approach when it comes to supporting local areas and meeting the needs of society. But we should also not be naïve; and must acknowledge that there may be challenges when it comes to developing place-based giving, and even unintended negative consequences. We explore what some of these challenges might be, and how they might be overcome.
  • 14 September 2017 

    Devolution: what's missing?

    As policymakers increasingly look at devolution as a solution for some of the key concerns facing our country, we ask if they're forgetting something fundamental. 

discussions not to miss

Can mayors help to build a culture of civil philanthropy?

There is a real opportunity to develop a modern culture of civic philanthropy to rival that of the Victorian era.

Read insight from our Head of Policy

How connected are people to their communities?

We investigate how much local causes matter, and if place-based giving schemes encourage giving.

View our findings
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No place for philanthropy | Podcast

We discuss: Does philanthropy still begin at home? Is there a dark side to civic philanthropy? What does 'place' mean to any of us?

Listen to the podcast

North-West focus

Our collection of insight, guidance and other useful resources for charities supporting communities in the North West of England.

Visit the hub

Bringing diverse communities together; podcast

We talk to Jim MInton of Toynbee Hall, based in London's East End, about the the role of local civil society organisations.

Listen to the podcast
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Philanthropy and public space | Podcast

How has philanthropy shaped public spaces, from National Parks and urban greenspaces to the digital world and what are the challenges ahead?

Listen to the podcast

In the media


Want to talk about our campaigns?


We are working to build a stronger charitable sector by running campaigns, influencing government and encouraging people to give to good causes.

Meet the team

Regional research

CAF Wales Giving 2019

Our first Wales Giving report provides unique insight into Welsh generosity and the challenges for charity in the region.

CAF Scotland Giving 2019

Our research reveals the key facts and trends of charitable giving in Scotland.

CAF UK Giving hub

We've been looking into donor behaviour and issues affecting charities in the UK since 2004.

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