Essays

How can we unleash the power of civil society in the 2020s?

Philanthropy

Unleashing the potential of UK philanthropy

Can community philanthropy help the UK level up?

If the UK is to level up, does philanthropy have a role? Outside challenging ultra-high-net-worth donors and foundations to put place at the heart of their thinking (many do, lots...


Rob Williamson - Chief Executive, Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland

Nudging generosity or dodging tax? How charity tax breaks improve philanthropy

Questions about democratic equality and accountability are important, and need to be debated. But we also need to understand the role of tax reliefs in relation to the demand-side as...


Beth Breeze - Director, Centre for Philanthropy, University of Kent

Better data, better giving

We can build a better future for philanthropy and charities by improving transparency about money flows in the sector.


Fran Perrin - Co-founder and Chair, 360Giving

Research, Respect and Risk: three maxims for doing philanthropy well

In our society of seemingly ever-increasing inequality, for those that want to make a difference now, there is philanthropy.  But what may come as a surprise is that in 15...


Mary Rose Gunn - Founder and Chief Executive, The Fore

How to do good

One of the questions I’m often asked is how, as a philanthropist, I can be confident that I, and our team, are doing the best we possibly can with our...


Sir Trevor Pears CMG - Executive Chair, The Pears Foundation

The Power of Letting Go: Is Participatory Grantmaking the Future of Philanthropy?

We are living in a time when philanthropy is at a moment of reckoning. Many grantees and social entrepreneurs feel disconnected from and disrespected by the institutions that fund them,...


Ben Wrobel and Meg Massey - Co-authors of Letting Go: How Philanthropists and Impact Investors Can Do The Most Good by Giving Up Control

Funding for Racial Justice Work: Is it the same old game or could we create some bold new moves?

Two years ago, The Ubele Initiative (TUI), the African Diaspora led organisation which I founded in 2014, had no UK based funding. Our community wealth building agenda was rejected by...


Yvonne Field - Founder and CEO, The Ubele Initiative

Donor education is the key to the future of Islamic Philanthropy

In 2018, the Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) published a finding on ‘giving’ in the Muslim community, which concluded that £130 million had been donated by British Muslims in just one...


Tufail Hussain - Director, Islamic Relief UK

Capital Ideas

The importance of properly valuing our country’s social capital

Social capital: the economy’s rocket fuel

The Covid crisis represents the latest in a long line of moments of economic upheaval in the UK in which social capital has provided important counter-cyclical stability.


Andy Haldane - Chief Economist, Bank of England

Seizing the moment: why Covid provides a chance for lasting change

Despite its overwhelmingly disastrous impact on our lives, Covid has galvanised campaigning, activism and civic participation. This creates an opportunity for us to reimagine and reshape society for the better....


Kajal Odedra - Executive Director, Change.org UK

Civil society and the generations

The power of civil society rests on the establishment and active management of institutions that help to hold us together. It must evolve as circumstances change and, in the current...


Rt Hon the Lord David Willetts - President, Resolution Foundation

It’s time to unleash the power of youth

Most young people feel a strong sense of social responsibility and many are already contributing to civil society in a variety of ways. At the same time, the Covid pandemic...


Jason Arthur - Director of Strategy & Innovation, Youth Futures Foundation

Why we need civil society to stand up and lead

Charities play an essential role in our country and are often the driving force behind positive policy change. But they find themselves too often ignored, unsupported, and misunderstood. Charities need...


Polly Neate CBE - Chief Executive, Shelter

Unleashing social power

At best civil society builds the relationships, trust, engagement, hope, and momentum that make change possible – what we call ‘social power’. Reform is woven into everything it does. But...


Sue Tibballs OBE - Chief Executive, Sheila McKechnie Foundation

Civil Partners

Optimising outcomes across the private, public and social sectors

Inclusive localism: communities’ place in a globalised world

Much of the disillusionment displayed by those living in ‘left behind’ parts of advanced economies is directed towards the process of globalisation. But the answer lies not in retreating to...


Professor Raghuram Rajan - Professor of Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

The importance of reciprocity in gluing society back together

Throughout the world and over decades, putting communities at the heart of policymaking has faced challenges. Learning from the past is essential as we look to reinforce and develop the...


Rt Hon Professor the Lord David Blunkett - Professor of Politics in Practice, University of Sheffield

The power and potential of places

When local government puts civil society at the heart of what they do, it brings democracy closer to the people. If powers and finance are devolved effectively, local government can...


Marvin Rees - Mayor of Bristol

Business is back in the community

Business plays a crucial role in supporting communities and delivering social good, and they have done in various ways for centuries. Covid has emphasised just how essential they can be,...


Amanda Mackenzie OBE - CEO, Business in the Community

Civil society and business: a two-way street

Too often, the discussion around businesses’ relationship with civil society suggests it is a one-way street. But in reality, the relationships goes two-ways. From accessing local insight to exchanging expertise,...


Heidi Mottram CBE - CEO, Northumbrian Water Group

Imagining better: prioritising people and planet over growth

Government misunderstands civil society as something that takes more than it gives. Empowering civil society requires understanding it as a set of relationships – between people, places and sectors –...


Vicky Browning & Kristiana Wrixon - CEO & Head of Policy, ACEVO

The ‘dugnad’ spirit: valuing the invaluable

Too often, businesses take civil society and the value it brings to them for granted, making it hard to work together. Companies and investors could learn much about the true...


Marte Borhaug - Global Head of Sustainable Outcomes, Aviva Investors

From ‘sectors’ to ‘system’: partnership working and civil society’s role in tackling inequality

Civil society is at the heart of Greater Manchester’s response to Covid, reflecting the approach to governance that the city-region has developed over recent years. Further collaboration and a devolved...


Rt Hon Andy Burnham - Mayor of Greater Manchester

Unleashing Potential

Making the most of our civil society

Portrait of Kirsty Blackman

Without structural change, civil society can only help one starfish at a time

SNP MP Kirsty Blackman reflects on the huge impact delivered by civil society, arguing that structural change from government is needed to unleash the sector's full potential.


Kirsty Blackman - MP for Aberdeen North

Portrait of Baroness Bennet

We need to reshape society to unleash the full potential of civil society

Former Green Party leader Baroness Natalie Bennett argues for a radical rethinking of the relationship between people and the economy.


Baroness Natalie Bennett - Member of the House of Lords

Britain needs a stronger social sector in these challenging times

Commissioner Baroness Valerie Amos explores the importance of civil society and the crucial part it has to play in building a stronger Britain.


Baroness Valerie Amos LG, CH, PC - Member of the House of Lords

Structural improvements: ideas for supporting a thriving civil society

Making the most of the great potential for good that civil society offers requires marrying the passion and drive that exists within the sector with a keen focus on maximising...


Dan Corry - CEO, New Philanthropy Capital

An uncertain future: the need to better understand the potential of civil society

The Covid pandemic has emphasised many of the existing fault lines in our society. Civil society responded nimbly to the crisis, but many are left in a financially vulnerable position...


Dame Julia Unwin - Chair, Civil Society Futures

Small charities are here to stay

Covid has changed the landscape for small charities. We need to seize the opportunity to create a brighter and bolder understanding of how small charities operate.


Rita Chadha - CEO, Small Charities Coalition

About. For. From: unpicking the sector’s data pessimism

We need better civil society data. That includes data ‘about’ civil society - measured at the national level; ‘for’ civil society – access to public data, along with the support...


Ed Humpherson - Director General for Regulation, Office for Statistics Regulation

Entrepreneurial philanthropy for all

Why are Americans so much better at giving money away than Brits? Britons don’t give as much as they could, while approaches to giving are too hands-off. In challenging inequality,...


Sir Peter Lampl - Founder and Executive Chair, the Sutton Trust

A new social covenant

We need a new ‘social covenant’ between civil society and the state. One that empowers communities and asserts the importance of government and businesses producing public good. We also need...


Danny Kruger MBE - Member of Parliament for Devizes

Civil society in our extremely digital world

To thrive in a digital world, civil society must play an active role in responding to the opportunities and challenges of technology. Doing so, means both making use of technology...


Cassie Robinson - Senior Head, UK Portfolio, the National Lottery Community Fund