In this episode we talk to Jo Kerr and Sonya Ruparel, from UK charity Turn2Us, about poverty, participation and the impact of the pandemic. Including:
Impact of Covid Pandemic
- How has the Covid 19 pandemic affected Turn 2 Us, and the people and communities the charity serves?
- What are the biggest challenges for the organisation over the coming months and longer-term post-pandemic?
- Has the necessity to adapt due to the pandemic accelerated Turn2Us’s digital adoption or transformation at all? If so, how?
- How important is the collection and use of data to the charity’s work? How is a focus on data incorporated into the organisation’s strategy?
- To what extent is digital transformation about employment practices rather than technology? (E.g. flexible/remote working, making charity work more appealing than private or public sector). Has the pandemic presented an opportunity in this regard?
- How might the charity workplace change over the next decade or so?
- What are the major barriers to the charity sector when it comes to engaging with and making use of technology?
- What, for Turn 2 Us, are the key areas of focus when it comes to tackling poverty?
- How have issues of poverty changed during the pandemic?
- Do particular communities or geographic localities face particular challenges when it comes to the impacts of poverty? How do you combine the specificity to address these particular challenges with the generality required to work at scale?
Role of charities
- What is the core role of civil society which differentiates it from either state or market provision?
- A lot of the work of Turn 2 Us is about helping people to understand and claim rights and benefits provided by the state- so is it more about “justice” than “charity”?
- How should we view the balance between addressing the symptoms of poverty through direct services and addressing its causes through advocating for fundamental systemic reform?
Participation & Power
- Turn 2 Us’s approach is rooted in ideas of co-production and empowering those in need to determine their own solutions. Why is this so important?
- What should we make of approaches such as participatory grantmaking, which seek to shift power as well as money towards recipients? Will we see more of this in coming years?
- Has the Covid pandemic highlighted the importance of strong civil society infrastructure?
- What are the key elements of this infrastructure?
- How do we ensure that infrastructure is fit for the challenges of the future?
- The Turn2Us website
- Independent article about Turn2Us new benefits calculator, “The new financial tools supporting those hit hardest by Covid”
- Rhod’s Giving Thought blog on “Mutual Aid, Charity & Philanthropy”
- Rhod’s Giving Thought blog on “Philanthropy and Civil Society after Covid-19: Key questions for the future”
- Our Giving Thought podcast series on “Covid 19: Voices From Civil Society”
Otros episodios de "Giving Thought"
Next Gen Philanthropy, with Sharna Goldseker & Michael Moody
56:32In this episode we talk to Sharna Goldseker and Michael Moody about their book Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors are Revolutionizing Giving, which is now available in an updated and expanded 2nd edition. Including: In what ways are Next Gen donors genuinely different from previous generations? Do Next Gen donors give to significantly different causes than their parents’ generation, or simply give to the same causes but in different ways? Are Next Gen donors more likely to adopt non-traditional vehicles for their giving? If so, what does this tell us about the limitations of current non-profit models? Do Next Gen donors tend to seek advice on their giving (either at the outset, or on an ongoing basis)? If so, who do they turn to? Whilst almost all Next Gen donors agree that they “want to see the impact of their giving”, what they mean by “impact” varies considerably- some looking for rigorous metrics and outcome measure, others for human interaction or compelling stories. How can nonprofits cater effectively to these differing notions of impact? Are Next Gen donors more likely to take a holistic view of philanthropy, in relation to how wealth is created, how it is invested etc? What does this mean in practical terms? What are the key differences between inherited and earned wealth and how do they influence approaches to philanthropy? What role does philanthropy play in the planning of wealth transfer within families? (E.g. is philanthropy seen as a tool for engaging the younger generation in the family’s financial affairs? What sorts of roles are Next Gens playing with regard to their family’s giving?) Are Next Gen donors more likely to want to blur the boundaries between philanthropy and political activity in order to pursue their aims? Is the desire for more “hands-on” engagement from Next Gen donors an opportunity to tap into additional skills, or does it present a new challenge in terms of awkward power dynamics? (I.e. is there a danger of Next Gen donors assuming that their knowledge is “better/more important” than that of people working in nonprofits, simply because of the power dynamics that come with funding?) Should we worry that the growing wave of scepticism, and even cynicism towards philanthropy, will have a negative impact on Next Gen donors’ willingness to give? Related content: More detail on the book from Sharna’s 21/64 website Excerpt of 1st edition of Generation Impact in SSIR More on Next Gen philanthropy from the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
Philanthropy, Domestic Violence & Partnering with the Public Sector, with Stelio Stefanou
47:44In this episode we talk to Stelio Stefanou OBE, philanthropist and Founder of the For Baby’s Sake Trust (FBST) - a charity which focuses on working with parents to address the impact of domestic violence on the early years development of children. In a wide-ranging conversation, we discussed: Is “philanthropist” a helpful or unhelpful word? How does a business background shape approaches to philanthropy? Why is it important to recognise that success in business doesn’t automatically equate to expertise about social issues or the work of charities? Why is an evidence base so crucial to the work of FBST? How has the organisation worked with academics to build that evidence base? How important is it that philanthropy looks beyond addressing symptoms and tries to address underlying causes? Are there challenges to combining advocacy with direct provision of services, or do the two naturally go hand-in-hand? How has the pandemic affected the work of FBST? What, if anything, is the USP of philanthropy in relation to the public or private sector? Does the ability of philanthropy to work over a longer time horizon make it better suited to supporting early interventions? Do you see yourself as having any responsibility to encourage other wealthy people to give, or is giving entirely down to personal choice? Should philanthropists see themselves as having any responsibility to encourage other wealthy people to give, or is giving entirely down to personal choice? Is there a danger that the growing wave of scepticism, and even cynicism towards philanthropy, will have a negative impact on people’s willingness to give? Des fear of “failure” hold some wealthy people back from engaging in philanthropy? How should we understand failure in philanthropy (and how is this different to failure in the public or private sector?) Related Links: For Baby’s Sake Trust website Info on FBST’s approach to influencing Giving Thought podcast with Jo Kerr and Sonya Ruparel
Modern Grantmaking, with Gemma Bull & Tom Steinberg
1:01:47In this episode Rhod sat down with Gemma Bull and Tom Steinberg, authors of new book "Modern Grantmaking: A Guide for Funders Who Believe Better is Possible". In a wide-ranging conversation, we discussed: Humility & Funder Ego Why is humility such a key part of Modern Grantmaking? Is part of the problem that traditionally our idea of what it means to be “good at grantmaking” has revolved around attributing genius to funders and grantmakers in terms of their choices/program design, rather than on the extent to which they nurture grantees? Do we need to redefine what counts as success and failure in grantmaking? Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Does grantmaking have a diversity problem? Are funders more effective when they reflect more closely the people and communities they serve? In what ways can they achieve this? Do some grantmaking practices exclude people from already-marginalised communities? (E.g. focus on the written-word, invitation-based grantmaking etc.) Privilege & Power Is traditional grantmaking paternalistic, and too often about decisions being made about communities rather than by them? The book emphasises that modern grantmakers should see themselves as serving the people and communities they fund– what does this mean in practice? Why is it so important for grantmakers to check their privilege, and what does this mean in practice? How do you navigate power dynamics within a grantmaking org- e.g. between trustees and grantmakers, or between philanthropic donors and the staff of a foundation? Participation & Movements There is a growing amount of focus on participatory approaches to grantmaking at the moment as part of the solution to the criticisms being levelled at philanthropy. How much of the rhetoric is reflected in reality? Would all grantmaking be participatory in an ideal world? Or are there limits to participatory approaches? i.e. are there some situations in which it is better for expert funders to set aims and design programs? Or are there cause areas in which participatory approaches are not suitable for other reasons? Would it help if more funders supported grassroots organisations and movements? Funding practices Are there signs that funders are changing their behaviour during the current crisis? (Moving to unrestricted funding, trust-based grantmaking etc.) Is this likely to lead to longer-term changes? Risk and Innovation Many have argued that a key function of philanthropic funding is to drive society forward by taking risks and funding things that the state and market cannot – but how much current philanthropic grantmaking do you think meets this criterion? Is there a danger that “being innovative” becomes an end in itself, and results in continual chasing after shiny new things, rather than funding things that are already known to work? Evidence and Impact The book argues that modern grantmaking requires more of a focus on evidence-based decisions- what kinds of evidence should grantmakers be considering? Do we need to ensure that different kinds of evidence and expertise are considered equally, in order to avoid perpetuating inequalities? What role can data play in making grantmaking more effective and equitable? Related Links: Modern Grantmaking- the book The Grant Givers Movement Giving Thought podcast with Meg Massey & Hannah Paterson Giving Thought podcast with Nell Edgington Giving Thought podcast with Fozia Irfan
Philanthropy, Racial Justice & Funding Grassroots Organizing, with Lori Bezahler
55:10In this episode we're joined by Lori Bezahler, President of the Edward W. Hazen Foundation, to discuss the role of philanthropy in supporting racial justice and funding grassroots organizing or social movements. Including: Racial Justice Is racial injustice such a big/cross-cutting issues that it should not be seen as a cause area, but rather as something that is the responsibility of ALL philanthropic funders and nonprofits? What does this mean in practice re racial justice issues? (E.g. supporting more grantees led by BIPOC leaders, promoting more BIPOC employees into positions of authority within foundations, acknowledging where philanthropic assets have been created in ways that exacerbated racial injustice, paying reparations etc?) Should we be optimistic that the current recognition of the need to apply a racial justice lens across philanthropy will be maintained? The “Movement Moment” Is the current enthusiasm for social movements reflective of a frustration people have that traditional nonprofits have failed to move the needle on issues such as the climate crisis or racial justice? Is the fact that participation is inherent to the approach of social movements part of their appeal, as it gives people a greater sense of agency over problems that can seem insurmountable? Are traditional nonprofits and funders too often a reflection of existing systems and power structures to push for the kind of radical solutions we need to deal with huge global, structural challenges? Does the ability of social movements to be more overtly political, or to employ more challenging tactics (e.g. protest, direct action), give them an advantage over civil society organisations (CSOs) that might be more constrained by legal/regulatory requirements? Can movements that have grown to huge scale very quickly find that they are lacking some of the elements of organisations infrastructure that they might need if they are to be sustainable over the longer-term? If so, can traditional CSOs and nonprofits work with them to provide some of that infrastructure? Does this happen in practice? Funding movements How can a funder determine where best to allocate their resources in order to support a movement most effectively? How big a risk is there that foundations and other funders co-opt social movements by deliberately introducing grant stipulations etc. aimed to direct the focus of the movement away from controversial areas or soften their tactics? Can funding from donors/foundations confer legitimacy on movements as well as financial resources? Is this useful for the movements? Can funders use their power positively on behalf of the movements they fund? Why is core-cost and multi-year funding so important when supporting movements? Are we seeing more funders recognise this and adapt the way they fund? Spending Down The Hazen Foundation took the bold decision in 2019 to spend down its remaining endowment over 5 years. What was the rationale for doing this at this point, after nearly 100 years of operating? What is the foundation aiming to fund over the coming years to ensure the foundation leaves a strong legacy? Should more foundations should consider spending down? Mission Related Investment Why did the Hazen Foundation decide to take a fully mission-related investment approach? What does this mean in practice? Does this involve going beyond screening to look for active opportunities to invest in activities that further the foundation’s mission? How are trade-offs between financial return and social impact assessed? Related Links: The Edward W. Hazen Foundation Lori’s Chronicle of Philanthropy opinion piece, “To Achieve Justice, Philanthropy Must Give Up Its Power” Lori’s joint article with Lateefah Simon in Chronicle of Philanthropy, “How Foundations Can Grapple With the Reality That Their Wealth Was Accumulated Unjustly” Lori’s piece for Inside Philanthropy, “Philanthropy Has a Duty to Respond Quickly to the COVID-19 Outbreak. Here’s How We Can Do It” Our Giving Thought podcast interview with Regan Ralph Our Giving Thought podcast interview with Megan Ming Francis Rhod’s Medium article, “Language Barriers: why the ways in which we talk about philanthropy & civil society are holding us back”
Poverty, Participation & The Pandemic, with Jo Kerr & Sonya Ruparel
53:27In this episode we talk to Jo Kerr and Sonya Ruparel, from UK charity Turn2Us, about poverty, participation and the impact of the pandemic. Including: Impact of Covid Pandemic How has the Covid 19 pandemic affected Turn 2 Us, and the people and communities the charity serves? What are the biggest challenges for the organisation over the coming months and longer-term post-pandemic? Digital Transformation Has the necessity to adapt due to the pandemic accelerated Turn2Us’s digital adoption or transformation at all? If so, how? How important is the collection and use of data to the charity’s work? How is a focus on data incorporated into the organisation’s strategy? To what extent is digital transformation about employment practices rather than technology? (E.g. flexible/remote working, making charity work more appealing than private or public sector). Has the pandemic presented an opportunity in this regard? How might the charity workplace change over the next decade or so? What are the major barriers to the charity sector when it comes to engaging with and making use of technology? Poverty What, for Turn 2 Us, are the key areas of focus when it comes to tackling poverty? How have issues of poverty changed during the pandemic? Do particular communities or geographic localities face particular challenges when it comes to the impacts of poverty? How do you combine the specificity to address these particular challenges with the generality required to work at scale? Role of charities What is the core role of civil society which differentiates it from either state or market provision? A lot of the work of Turn 2 Us is about helping people to understand and claim rights and benefits provided by the state- so is it more about “justice” than “charity”? How should we view the balance between addressing the symptoms of poverty through direct services and addressing its causes through advocating for fundamental systemic reform? Participation & Power Turn 2 Us’s approach is rooted in ideas of co-production and empowering those in need to determine their own solutions. Why is this so important? What should we make of approaches such as participatory grantmaking, which seek to shift power as well as money towards recipients? Will we see more of this in coming years? Infrastructure Has the Covid pandemic highlighted the importance of strong civil society infrastructure? What are the key elements of this infrastructure? How do we ensure that infrastructure is fit for the challenges of the future? Related Links The Turn2Us website Independent article about Turn2Us new benefits calculator, “The new financial tools supporting those hit hardest by Covid” Rhod’s Giving Thought blog on “Mutual Aid, Charity & Philanthropy” Rhod’s Giving Thought blog on “Philanthropy and Civil Society after Covid-19: Key questions for the future” Our Giving Thought podcast series on “Covid 19: Voices From Civil Society”
Participatory grantmaking, with Meg Massey & Hannah Paterson
57:18In this episode we talk participatory approaches in philanthropy and social investment, with Meg Massey, co-author of “Letting Go: How Philanthropists and Impact Investors Can Do More Good by Giving Up Control” and Hannah Paterson, Senior Portfolio Manager at the National Lottery Community Fund. Including: There is a growing amount of focus on participatory approaches to grantmaking at the moment as part of the solution to the criticisms being levelled at philanthropy. How much of the rhetoric is reflected in reality? If there is resistance to adopting participatory approaches, why is this? What’s the core case for adopting participatory approaches: that it democratises philanthropy (and thus helps to answer various critiques) or that it results in better outcomes? Or is it both? What different kinds of models of participatory grantmaking are there? What kind of challenges are there for traditional grantmakers when it comes to bringing communities and people with lived experience into decision making processes? Do participants in a grantmaking decision process need to be representative of a wider community? If so, how do you select them to ensure that representation? How can existing grantmakers transition some or all of their grantmaking to participatory methods? Would all grantmaking be participatory in an ideal world? Or are there limits to participatory approaches? i.e. are there some situations in which it is better for expert funders to set aims and design programs? Or are there cause areas in which participatory approaches are not suitable for other reasons? Can participatory approaches be used outside traditional grantmaking too, e.g. in impact investing/social investment? Does the prominence of XR, BLM and other “new power” organisations suggest an unmet demand within civil society for participation and sharing power? What lessons should traditional CSOs and funders take from this? What should we make of criticisms that since philanthropy is to some extent a product of structural inequality, it can never truly be part of the solution? Are some donors and funders recognise the challenges and are genuinely pursuing structural change? Related Links Meg’s new book (co-authored with Ben Wrobel) “Letting Go: How Philanthropists and Impact Investors Can Do More Good by Giving Up Control” Meg on Twitter Hannah’s website Hannah on Twitter The Participatory Grantmaking community Meg and Ben’s article for Pioneers Post “How philanthropists and impact investors can do more good – by giving up control” Meg and Ben’s article for NonProfit Quarterly “Philanthropy and the Zen of Participation” Rhod’s World Economic Forum article, “Philanthropy is at a turning point. Here are 6 ways it could go” CAF Giving Thought podcast on participatory philanthropy with Rose Longhurst
Silicon Valley, Billionaires & Philanthropy, with Teddy Schleifer
51:12On this episode we talk to Teddy Schleifer, Senior Reporter, Money & Influence at Recode (part of the Vox Media group), about billionaires, Silicon Valley and philanthropy. Including: Silicon Valley Philanthropy Do most tech billionaires see their wealth as “self-made”, or do they recognise any sense of societal debt, luck etc? How does this shape their giving? How does the wider public view the philanthropy of modern tech billionaires? Are tech donors particularly prone to solutionism or a desire for “moonshots” in their philanthropy? Are many big tech donors happy with the idea of giving away power as well as money? Or are they likely to want to retain control of decision-making about their philanthropy? Does this make them any different to other big money donors? Are donors like Mackenzie Scott, who seem to be trying to shift power as well as financial resources through her philanthropy, merely outliers; or do they signal a wider trend? Reporting on Philanthropy Why is it important to have journalists focussing on philanthropy? How do you balance focussing on the individual stories of philanthropists vs systemic issues about philanthropy as a whole? Is there an argument for more philanthropic funding of journalistic scrutiny of philanthropy? Could increased philanthropic funding of news media actually undermine journalism’s ability to hold philanthropy itself to account? (E.g. if outlets self-censor to avoid upsetting existing or potential patrons). Critiques of Philanthropy Is there a danger that scrutiny can tip over into cynicism when it comes to philanthropy? Should we worry that the growing wave of scepticism, and even cynicism towards philanthropy, will have a negative impact on people’s willingness to give? Of the current critiques levelled at philanthropy, which are potentially misguided or overstated, and which are genuinely important to heed? Do these critiques only really apply to big money/elite philanthropy? Transparency in Philanthropy Do wealthy donors deliberately use philanthropy to deflect or preclude criticism of their business dealings, tax affairs etc, or are reputational benefits merely a side-effect of genuinely altruistic behaviour in some cases? Do foundations (and donors) need to be more transparent? If so, why and about what? Who does it benefit (the foundations themselves, their donors, grantees, taxpayers etc.) Should we be concerned about the growing trend for elite donors to use LLCs and other vehicles that may be less transparent? Related Links Some of Teddy’s Recode articles: “What Americans really think about billionaires during the pandemic” Jeff Bezos will spend $1 billion a year to fight climate change America’s billionaire philanthropists gave away more during the pandemic. But there’s a catch MacKenzie Scott, the Amazon billionaire, is giving away $1 billion a month to charity Jeff Bezos plays it safe on his $10 billion climate giveaway CAF Giving Thought podcast on “Mackenzie Scott and the Reimagining of Philanthropy”. CAF Giving Thought podcast on “Jeff Bezos, Big Philanthropy and Climate Change” Rhod’s 2020 Alliance article “Bezos’ $10bn donation should not pitch philanthropy and taxation against each other – that would be a zero-sum game” Rhod’s 2018 Alliance article “Philanthropy should fund the media for its own sake”
Philanthropy in Brazil during the pandemic, with Denis Mizne
41:38In this episode we talk to Denis Mizne, CEO of Lemann Foundation - Brazil’s largest educational funder – about philanthropy in Brazil during the Covid-19 pandemic and the Lemann Foundation’s pivot to supporting vaccine trials in the country. Including: Vaccination How and why did Lemann Foundation get involved in Covid vaccine trials? How does this fit with the foundations normal focus on education and leadership, and will it result in any shift of focus longer-term? Is there a danger that ongoing controversies about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and about the distribution of vaccines more broadly will have a knock-on impact on trust in philanthropy? Education & Leadership How has the Covid pandemic affected education in Brazil and what has Lemann Foundation done in response? Will the pandemic have a lasting impact on children’s education in the country and how is the foundation adapting its strategy to reflect this? A key focus of Lemann Foundation’s funding is developing leadership- what is the theory behind this? Are their challenges when it comes to assessing the impact of leadership development, where timescales may be very long-term and outcomes may be widely dispersed and difficult to link to interventions? Are foundations uniquely well-placed to follow these kinds of long-term/upstream strategies? Philanthropy in Brazil What does the landscape of philanthropy in Brazil look like? E.g. how much HNWI giving is there? How much mass market giving? What role does corporate philanthropy play? What role do foundations play? What kind of domestic causes receive philanthropic funding in Brazil? Is there any cross-border giving to other countries? What is the attitude of the Brazilian government towards civil society in general? What is the attitude of the Brazilian government towards philanthropy? What is the attitude of the Brazilian public towards philanthropy? Philanthropy in Wider Context What is the core role of philanthropy within society which differentiates it from either state or market provision? Do recent critiques of philanthropy in the US and elsewhere resonate in the Brazilian context? Why should we not see philanthropy as the “solution” to intractable social problems in isolation, and how do we get better cross-sector collaboration? Related links https://fundacaolemann.org.br/en Denis’s Alliance Magazine article “Vaccination and collaboration: what we can achieve in a divided world” Denis’s Alliance magazine article “We must develop talent and leadership to meet the challenges of the post-Covid world” Interview with Denis about Lemann Foundation’s vaccine trial work in Alliance magazine (£) CAF’s Global Alliance partner in Brazil, IDIS CAF’s 2019 Brazil Giving report Rhod’s article for Stanford Social Innovation Review (with Paula Fabiani from IDIS) “Brazil’s New Endowment Law Could Strengthen Philanthropy and Democracy Around the Globe”
Why Civil Society Matters More Than Ever, with Andy Haldane (and Neil Heslop)
58:53In this episode we talk to Andy Haldane, Chief Economist of the Bank of England about his long-standing interest in civil society, why he thinks it is so important yet undervalued, and what sort of challenges and opportunities the coming years may bring. We also have some analysis and additional insight from CAF CEO Neil Heslop. Including: The economy and charitable giving If the UK economy is like a “coiled spring”, and once lockdown measures are relaxed we will see a significant bounce-back as people start to spend again, will we also see a corresponding rise in charitable giving? Are there any concerns that some charities will have lost operational and fundraising capacity as a result of the pandemic, and this might limit their ability to harness any increase in giving? The Role of Civil Society What is the core role of the voluntary sector within society which differentiates it from either state or market provision? As the landscape for doing good appears to be expanding (with the emergence of mutual aid networks, digital social movements, purpose-led businesses, impact investing etc) do we need to make a renewed case for the unique value of charitable organisations? If so, what is that USP? Should we have any concerns that some of our models for engaging in civil society have become too transactional and thus may not be developing social capital in the way we might want? Measurement Many argue that a major challenge facing civil society is that most current systems of measurement do not capture the full value of what charities and other civil society organisations do. What should we be measuring instead? Is this more about better measurement within civil society, or about changing the measures government uses (e.g. GDP) so that they capture a wider notion of value? Or is it both? What would this entail in practice? Are there potential risks in putting more emphasis on measurement? E.g. that any measures become targets and thus skew activity (a la Goodhart’s Law); or that the decision about who gets to set measures introduces problematic power dynamics? Civil Society Narratives & Influence Andy has previously argued that “despite its crucial role, the social sector goes largely unnoticed in many policy discussions”- is this primarily due to the current lack of appropriate measurement, or are there wider issues when it comes to our understanding and narratives around civil society? How can we get better understanding and clearer narratives about civil society and its role in the minds of policymakers? Are there any practical barriers that are currently limiting the ability of civil society to “have a seat at the table” when it comes to policy discussions? What could we do to overcome these? Infrastructure The pandemic has highlighted more starkly than ever how vital it is to have strong infrastructure in civil society. Where are the greatest weaknesses or biggest gaps in existing infrastructure that we need to address? How do we get government to think of social infrastructure alongside physical infrastructure? What might civil society infrastructure that is fit for the future (rather than based on the structures of the past) look like? Digital Evidence suggest that the charity sector is currently lagging behind in its adaptation to digital technology. What are the key barriers preventing charities from harnessing digital? How can we address these? What more could be done to match the existing supply of skills and capacity around technology in the private sector with the potential demand in civil society. How might this work? What role would the private sector, government and the charity sector need to play in making it happen? Will the current period of enforced digitisation as a consequence of the COVID pandemic lead to more CSOs engaging with the opportunities and challenges of technology? Civil Society in the 4th Industrial Revolution Civil society played a key role in previous periods of rapid social and technological change - by helping people and communities to navigate challenges and opportunities, and by speaking out against any unintended harms of progress. Is civil society in a position to play this vital role in the current Fourth Industrial Revolution? If not, why not? What do we need to do to strengthen civil society capacity in this regard? What are some of the biggest opportunities that emerging technology could bring for civil society? Could widespread automation lead to a blurring of the boundaries between our notions of work, volunteering and leisure? Will we need to adjust our understanding and narratives of civil society accordingly? Should civil society organisations make a case for their value as sources of knowledge and insight about the potential impacts of technology on people and communities, which can help to inform wider policy debates about technological development? Related Links: Andy’s speech for the Pro Bono Economics 10th anniversary lecture, “The Third Pillar and the Fourth Industrial Revolution” FT, “Andy Haldane: Bring charities out of the technological dark ages” Civil Society, “Charities 'underestimated and overshadowed’ says Bank of England chief economist” Civil Society “Andy Haldane: Covid-19 has reinforced the values of community purpose and social solidarity” The Guardian, “Andy Haldane: ‘We have allowed the voluntary sector to wither’” Andy’s speech for Charity Finance Week 2020, “The Role of Charities in an Era of Anxiety” Andy’s slides for his 2020 lecture, “The Health, Wealth & Happiness of Nations” Mark Carney’s CAF Giving Thought podcast, “Philanthropy, civil society and COVID-19: what now, what next?” CAF’s “A Covid-19 Philanthropy Stimulus Package” policy paper, 2020 Rhod’s WEF article, “Where are the charities in the great AI debate?” Rhod’s Alliance magazine piece, “Riding the tiger of technological change”
Technology, Philanthropy & Civil Society, with Nanjira Sambuli
50:11In this episode we talk to Nanjira Sambuli about technology, philanthropy and civil society. Nanjira is a researcher, policy analyst and advocacy strategist based in Nairobi, Kenya and in a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion we touched on: Digital civil society Is there any meaningful distinction between “civil society” and “digital civil society” now? I.e. is technology no longer something that should be seen as a cause area or a tool, but a cross-cutting factor that affects all CSOs? What dangers are there for CSOs in assuming that platforms are objective or neutral public spaces? Are these problems likely to be made worse by the enforced pivot to digital for so many orgs as a result of COVID? How do we link existing work by digital activists etc. to more traditional actors within civil society (e.g. foundations) that might be interested in engaging on technology issues? Influencing the wider development & implementation of tech Can CSOs play a meaningful role in ensuring that tech is designed and implemented ethically? Is this even the right framing? Does the focus on “ethical” tech development beg the question of whether we should even do some of these things at all (and not just “do them ethically”)? Does it divert attention from the need for more traditional mechanisms of legislation and regulation? Do CSOs from the ‘global south’ face particular challenges when it comes to influencing the development of tech? What role can foundations and funders can play in helping nonprofits engage with technological change? Power Dynamics What challenges do the inherent power imbalances between CSOs and tech companies create? Do power imbalances within civil society also pose challenges? (E.g. between funders and recipients, or between CSOs in the global north and those in the global south?) Do we need to make philanthropy more democratic, or accountable to the people and communities it is supposed to serve? If so, how? Automation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution Should we take an optimistic or pessimistic view of the impact of technology on civil society? Should we be worried that CSOs and funders are not getting to grips with either the challenges or opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution? What role is there for CSOs in addressing the impact of algorithmic bias? Is such bias likely to affect CSOs themselves? If so, how? The Future Role of Philanthropy in Society What should we make of criticisms that since philanthropy is to some extent a product of existing structural inequality, it can never truly be part of the solution? Are the donors and funders who recognise these challenges and are genuinely pursuing structural change? Does the fact that a growing proportion of philanthropic wealth comes from donors who have made their money in tech present challenges when it comes to getting philanthropy to focus on the societal impacts of technology? E.g. Are these tech donors particularly prone to “tech solutionism” or more likely to assume the inevitability of technological development? Predictions and Foresight in civil society: The pandemic has highlighted the importance of looking ahead to the future. How can we get more foresight and futures thinking embedded in civil society? What role could foundations and funders play? What role should civil society and philanthropic funders be playing in developing imagined futures that are informed by the voices of people and communities on the ground around the world? Related links Nanjira on Twitter Nanjira’s recent article for WINGS, “On the Patient Capital Needed from Philanthropy in Tech”. Video of the WINGS Forum 2021 event on “Philanthropy and the Digital Revolution” that Nanjira and I were both involved in. “What is Digital Equality?” Interview with Nanjira Sambuli” in European Sting Rhod’s WEF articles, “Philanthropy is at a Turning Point: Here are 6 Ways it could go” and “Where are Charities in the Great AI Debate?” Our CAF Giving Thought podcasts with Lucy Bernholz and Cassie Robinson. Rhod’s 2018 Alliance article “Riding the Tiger of Technological Change”