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In this episode we talk to Fozia Irfan OBE, Director of Impact & Influence at BBC Children in Need and recent Churchill Fellow, about her report Transformative Philanthropy: A Manual for Social Change, and about how philanthropy in the UK needs to change if it is to become a better tool for delivering social justice.


  • What does it mean to apply a social justice framing to philanthropy?
  • Is this applicable to all foundations, regardless of cause area?
  • Is the conversation about philanthropy reform more sophisticated in the US?
  • Why is historical perspective important for funders when it comes to understanding their cause areas and the role of philanthropy?
  • Why do funders need to understand the different philosophical traditions that might underpin a focus on social justice?
  • Why is it so important for funders to express a clear and specific vision? Are there examples of organisations that do this well already?
  • What does it mean for funders to be community-centric?
  • What does it mean to take an intersectional view of issues, and why is it important?
  • Why should foundations engage in movement building?
  • 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?
  • 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?

  • What does it mean for foundations to be cross-sectoral and multi-dimensional? Why are they not currently doing this?
  • Do we look at institutional philanthropy too narrowly through the lens of grantmaking, and thus fail to take into account the importance of other potential tools (e.g. campaigning, storytelling etc)?
  • Why is it important to understand the historic roots of the wealth, institutions and practices we have in philanthropy?
  • What should philanthropic orgs do about links to historic racial injustices? Is it enough to acknowledge them, or do they need to go beyond that and seek means to make reparations somehow?
  • Should we take a pragmatic approach to improving philanthropy (i.e. working with existing structures to improve them) or “burn everything to the ground” as some more radical voices argue we should?

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Learn from our past to better understand our future.

Philanthropy has a long and varied history. We’ve created bite-size chapters that you can jump in and out of to better understand philanthropy.