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Year two in review: growth and new opportunities for the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy

1 July 2022

The article at a glance

The Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (CSP) recently celebrated its second anniversary, solidifying its role as a hub for research and convening on philanthropy in global growth markets.

by the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy team

The Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (CSP) recently celebrated its second anniversary, solidifying its role as a hub for research and convening on philanthropy in global growth markets.

2021 presented new expansions and exciting opportunities for the Centre, particularly considering it was the first year the CSP was able to deliver on the full scope of its remit. The Centre resourced its team and launched inaugural research, thought leadership and education portfolios, including its unique executive education course ‘Maximising Impact for Philanthropy in Emerging Markets’, and the #ShiftThePower virtual convening series. The CSP also began curating a book project on top lessons learned in philanthropy during COVID-19 (coronavirus) and signed a landmark collaboration agreement with its counterpart research centre in South Africa. These achievements were very welcome given the ongoing global challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the CSP was also enormously pleased to significantly boost its profile internationally and create numerous additional opportunities for engagement with key stakeholders in core regions, including Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

The Centre’s growth and achievements over the past year can be broken down across three core areas of activity; research, outreach, and executive education.


Bringing on board two Research Associates, Dr Shonali Banerjee and Dr Juvaria Jafri, has allowed for the CSP to reach a major milestone of building a robust, academically rigorous internal portfolio of research. In late 2020, the CSP had written an extensive industry report on the impact of COVID-19 on emerging market philanthropy. This provided insights on whether the pandemic had heightened or alleviated sectoral challenges and revealed a need for deeper academic study. Indeed, the COVID-19 report served an important role in informing the broader research agenda and in creating a manifesto from which the CSP was able to engage in thought leadership.

Shonali Banerjee.
Dr Shonali Banerjee

Following its publication in December 2020, the research team were able to use these findings, along with the long list of potential research topics derived from early market soundings with multiple industry experts, to start engaging with practitioners in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. This led to a series of regional focus groups and elite interviews which allowed the Centre’s research team to refine and envisage the research agenda. Based on those findings and building on several key challenges facing emerging market philanthropy – system change, regulatory frameworks and innovative financing models, the Centre formed its progressive, rigorous research agenda with the launch of a new landmark industry report ‘System Change in Philanthropy for Development – A Research Framework for Global Growth Markets’ in early 2022.

“The impact and engagement we have received as a newly formed Centre has been nothing short of brilliant. I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to our key participants and stakeholders who have worked closely with the CSP over the last year to shine a spotlight on critical global growth opportunities and development within the philanthropic sector,” says Dr Shonali Banerjee, Senior Research Associate, Centre for Strategic Philanthropy.


Jack Lilley.
Jack Lilley

Engagement and impact growth have been top priorities for the CSP with a very active programme of convenings, thought curation and participation in key industry events. The Centre’s convenings provide insights into the philanthropic sector in global growth markets and connect with industry experts to broaden the CSP community. Over the past year, the CSP engaged with the ongoing #ShiftThePower movement, originated by the Global Fund for Community Foundations, as part of a new series addressing power dynamics in the sector. The team welcomed 21 speakers and key voices over the five-part series, attracting over 1,000 virtual attendees. The CSP will continue to build on this momentum in the coming years, notably by further entrenching its work with industry networks through membership and close engagement. The latter is an important means of staying abreast of industry developments and changes, while also building brand recognition among emerging market philanthropists. This further advances both the CSP’s research and executive education agendas.

“It has been amazing to see the engagement from not just our core markets, but the wider philanthropic community since launching CSP’s communications network. We are building a diverse community of likeminded thinkers, innovators, and future philanthropic leaders who, alongside the CSP, can help shape the future direction of philanthropy and development,” says Jack Lilley, Communications Manager, Centre for Strategic Philanthropy.

Executive education

The development and launch of the Centre’s executive education programme has attracted a wealth of industry professionals keen to learn more about how maximise philanthropic impact, focusing on theoretical concepts around strategic management supplemented by rich and engaging philanthropic case studies. The Centre ran two versions of its open programme in late 2021 and a further third edition in early 2022, additionally providing a bespoke version of the programme for the Abu Dhabi Festival in September 2021 for young social entrepreneurs held under the theme Your Future Starts Now. The CSP looks forward to further building our executive education alumni base and sharing learnings with new cohorts as we progress programme in late 2022 and beyond.

“The Centre’s executive education programme has significantly stirred my resolve to continue contributing to the philanthropy eco-system. Strategic philanthropy has a significant role to play in driving sustainable development and this programme has been designed to encourage this way of thinking. Well-designed, rich content, fantastic facilitators, and networking opportunities provided and all together well organised programme!” says Mercy Wangari Murigi, Regional Partnerships and Capacity Development Manager, Children’s Mission Africa Trust.

Beyond these three core areas of operation, the CSP looks forward to further embracing its already entrenched spirit of collaboration, be that within the University of Cambridge or within the core markets. The Centre has truly become a place for deep critical engagement on the field of philanthropy for development, and the potential for greater research, innovation, and thought leadership in this area is enormous. The CSP aims to continue its rootedness in collective learning and value creation, reflecting its wider mission to embody and facilitate many of the changes the philanthropic community would like to see in the sector. Looking ahead, the Centre believes that it can effectively identify, engage, and support philanthropists and industry practitioners, and provide invaluable resources intellectual resources particularly to stakeholders in key global growth ma