The Grand Hotel has stood on Brighton seafront since 1864, its prominent blue lighting not really befitting to the usual yellow of the Lib Democrats, but attracting attention throughout the evenings nonetheless.
As one of the main fringe venues behind the metal detectors and bag searches of the secure zone, its ideally located for any conference attendee who wants to swap the business of the main conference hall for an intellectual debate on anything from the biggest political issues of the day to niche interests.
It was here in the Pavilion room, with its grandeur and panoramic sea views, that yesterday evening CAF began its tour of the political conferences with our first fringe event where we asked – Boomers then Bust: Is giving a Generation Game?
On the night the venue saw a mix of grassroots Lib Dem party members, politicians, journalists and interested charity sector people gathered to hear what the panel had to say about our research into whether giving is a “Generation Game” and our ideas to get younger generations giving more.
On the panel were:
Tony Grew (Chair) – Parliamentary Editor of PoliticsHome.com
Baroness Tyler – Life peer and former Chief Executive of Relate
Jenny Willott MP – MP for Cardiff Central and former Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for the Third Sector
Dr Beth Breeze – Researcher at the Centre for Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice at the University of Kent
Dr John Low – Chief Executive, Charities Aid Foundation
Tony Grew kicked off the event by introducing our theme and then our Chief Executive, John Low, talked about how more than half of donations today come from the over 60s and how important it is to think now to avoid a donation deficit in the future.
Next up was Dr Beth Breeze, who told the audience that there is a direct correlation between age and giving – older people do give more. She went on to say that many of the ways young people do get involved are not measured by academics, such as volunteering and campaiging and that under 30s today are very different to the under 30s of the Baby Boomer generation.
Jenny Willott MP thought it was important that we consider the financial circumstances of young people today, their debt levels and disposable income. She added that building a connection between charities and young people is the key to better engagement.
The final speaker, Baroness Tyler said it was important not to stigmatise young people and that charities need to think about engaging young people by having younger trustees and offering apprenticeships.
There was a lively set of comment and questions from the floor, including discussion on the property boom allowing baby boomers to have more wealth, the breakdown of community life and its effect on giving and how austerity has increased localism through charity.
All in all this was great to start the conference season off with a lively and informed debate, and we’ll be taking the issues raised on the road with us as we continue to spread the word about giving across the generations.
Watch this space for another update from Manchester, where we’ll be seeing what Labour have to say about whether giving is a Generation Game.