Giving Thought


CAF’s in-house think tank focussing on current and future issues affecting philanthropy and civil society.


Bitcoin is an example of cryptocurrency: a new form of digital money not linked to a government or central bank. The technology which makes this possible is the blockchain: a revolutionary new type of ledger for transactions that is owned and maintained by all the users of the system rather than being controlled by a single authority.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology have some fascinating features that could have a huge impact on charities and charitable giving. In this series of videos based on three discussion papers, we explore what this impact might be.

New models of digital 'cryptocurrencies', such as Bitcoin, could present both major opportunities and challenges for charities. In this video we look at some of these opportunities and challenges, such as the potential for ‘radical transparency’ of donations, the possibility of making it easier to get aid money to where it is needed and the challenge of anonymous cryptocurrency donations.

The blockchain is the decentralised, shared public ledger at the heart of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but it also has far wider applications. This video looks at the role blockchain technology could play in boosting transparency and trust in charities; the impact of new assets becoming available for giving, and the potential for ‘smart contracts’ that govern philanthropy. This leads to the idea that in the future, ‘smart’ domestic appliances could become ‘AI philanthropists’.

In this video we consider whether blockchain technology could be used to transform the way charities are created and regulated. We look at what it might mean for registering and monitoring charities; whether it could open up the possibility of 100% transparent, real-time financial information on charities; and explore whether smart contracts could result in a fundamental shift in the way rules are enforced. We also consider whether this could eventually spell the end of traditional charity regulation.


We've published four papers looking at the impact that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology could have on charities and philanthropy. You can find more detail on the fascinating ideas and questions explored, and links to the papers themselves, below.

Giving a Bit(Coin)

'Cryptocurrencies' like Bitcoin could have a major impact on charities.

Learn more about the opportunities and challenges

Giving Unchained

Blockchain technology is seen as potentially revolutionary.

Find out what it means for charities and philanthropy

Block & Tackle

Could blockchain technology transform the way charities are created and regulated?

Read more about what the future might bring
The decentralisation of charity

Losing the Middle but Keeping the Heart

Blockchain, DAOs and the future decentralisation of charity.

Changing the structure of charitable organisations


House of Lords logo (128px)

CAF submission to House of Lords call for evidence on AI

This is CAF's submission to a call for evidence from the House of Lords Select committe on Artifical Intelligence (AI). We outline the work we have done in this area and how we think this technology will affect charities and donors.
This is CAF's submission to a call for...


'Giving unchained: Could the blockchain transform charity?' at Together we're better

Robotic Alms: AI and the future of charitable giving

If you missed Rhodri at the Together We're Better conference, you can watch the presentation of his ground-breaking work exploring how future technologies such as Bitcoin and blockchain could impact charitable giving.

Read the paper 'Giving unchained - Philanthropy and the blockchain'

In this presentation, Rhodri asks: could AI lead to the development of effective, low-cost philanthropy advice, and thus drive better and more effective giving?


Rhodri Davies

Head of Policy

Rhodri leads Giving Thought – CAF’s in-house think tank focussing on current and future issues affecting philanthropy and civil society. He is the author of Public Good by Private Means: How philanthropy shapes Britain, which traces the history of philanthropy in Britain and what it tells us about the role of modern philanthropy.

Rhodri has spent nearly a decade specialising in public policy around philanthropy and the work of charities, and has researched, written and presented on a wide range of topics. He has a first-class degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.


Rhodri's Twitter

For more on blockchain and charities, follow Rhodri on Twitter.

Giving Thought blog

The latest on key issues affecting civil society, philanthropy, social investment and using new technologies for social good.

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