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Impact and engagement at the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy

21 June 2021

The article at a glance

Each of our research centres has unique ways to engage with non-academic organisations and, through that, to generate real world impact. This month we decided to share with you the work of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Each of our research centres has unique ways to engage with non-academic organisations and, through that, to generate real world impact. This month we decided to share with you the work of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at Cambridge Judge Business School.

The Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (CSP) puts impact and engagement at the centre of all its activities. Despite being an incredibly young centre (it was officially launched just a year ago), it has already organised and contributed to several knowledge exchange events, reaching hundreds of practitioners, and engaged in important research projects supporting the work of philanthropists in the Global South.

Research driven by philanthropists’ knowledge needs

In its first year of existence, the Centre has produced several research projects through its internal team of researchers as well as through collaborations with other faculty from Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) and other research centres. Research topics have ranged from the role and functioning of social stock exchanges to philanthropic capital flows in emerging markets and the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on global dynamics in the philanthropy space. Findings on important trends and practices relevant to philanthropists have been published through academic papers, reports, blogs, webinars, and teaching cases, which are employed in the Executive Education course run by the CSP. Notably, the content of the report on the impact of COVID-19, recently became the foundation of an article on Stanford Social Innovation Review. Upcoming projects involve philanthropy supply and demand in emerging economies and the regulation of philanthropic capital, a regular executive education offering and a new #ShiftThePower seminar series.

All research topics that the Centre chooses to explore are based on what emerges from their constant dialogue with philanthropists from the Global South, to ensure that the knowledge produced is timely and relevant, and with high potential for practical application and impact. The knowledge that the CSP creates through research and thought leadership is translated into accessible formats and leveraged to catalyse change.

Organisation of public engagement events for knowledge sharing

In the last few months, the Centre has co-hosted a three-part webinar series with Tharawat, to promote strategic philanthropy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region among family businesses and high-net worth individuals, and a webinar with Alliance Magazine, discussing philanthropy in high growth markets. Moreover, it attracted the attention of over 500 organisations on its work on COVID-19’s impact on global philanthropy through a dedicated webinar series and it is now planning a new series called “Shift the power”. Additionally, the Centre’s directors have delivered talks in several webinars, conferences, and podcasts.

On 14 May, the Centre co-hosted the Talking Philanthropy 2021 Conference, in collaboration with Global Philanthropic and The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. The event welcomed over 1,000 participants from 52 countries and included panels on health, the environment and education, as well as specialist case study examples from the United Nations Foundations and Birdlife International. The Centre’s founding patron, Badr Jafar, opened the event with a webinar on Research and Philanthropy and COVID-19: Is the North-South Power Balance Finally Shifting? Where Academic Director, Kamal Munir and Executive Director, Clare Woodcraft spoke on the complex issues facing philanthropy in the Global South and how specifically this is changing as a result of the pandemic.

Actively partnering with philanthropists and other stakeholders

To increase rapidly the reach of its work and its contribution to the world of philanthropy, the CSP has put significant effort from the beginning in connecting with key professional networks and stakeholders. These both support the diffusion of the Centre’s research findings and knowledge and help it understand key trends and needs in the sector.

The Centre’s directors joined an expert group at the OECD Centre on Philanthropy to support the production of its Private Philanthropy for Development report through strategic advice. Additionally, the Centre contributed to a breakfast meeting during the World Economic Forum that brought together philanthropists, governments officials, business leaders and prominent researchers to discuss the role of philanthropy in the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The CSP is also a member of both the Asian and European Venture Philanthropy networks as is currently working to expand its connections with key networks in Africa and the MENA region.

In the past year, the Centre has also been continually active in strengthening its connection to the Cambridge community, to leverage synergies with other centres and departments and make the most of the Cambridge ecosystem to support philanthropists in the Global South. Claire Woodcraft has presented the research of the Centre to several groups in Cambridge and is a member of the Steering Committee of the Strategic Research Initiative (SRI) of Cambridge Global Challenges that convenes academics from across Cambridge to enhance research contributing to the delivery of the SDGs.

In its first year of existence, the CSP has already planted many seeds to generate impact in the future, through research, knowledge exchange and dissemination, and connection with several key stakeholders.