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This is part of The Globe and Mail's in-depth look at the evolution of philanthropy. Read more from the series here.

The past decade has been one of seismic change in the giving sector. Charities, here and abroad, are being challenged like never before.

Their most avid donors are aging and coming generations have not yet shown the same zeal for giving.

Last year, billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett galvanized philanthropy with their Giving Pledge, a bold call for the world's wealthiest to donate half of their fortunes to worthy causes.

As a result of that challenge and the huge sums that have flowed from it, charities have begun to take a more businesslike approach to their operations.

Mobile technology is making it easier than ever to help strangers a world away. Governments like Britain's and our own are experimenting with ways of shifting more responsibility to citizens and foundations.

Meanwhile, middle-class people have seen their earnings stagnate as the global economy makes a halting recovery.

It is a time of crisis and opportunity, dire predictions and great innovations. The Globe spent months reporting on the scope and impact of a revolution that has the power to transform lives and speaks to our higher selves.