Directory of Social Change says there is 'no massive generation gap' in giving

Catherine Walker, author of a DSC report, challenges suggestions of a 'donation deficit' among young people in a recent Charities Aid Foundation report

Catherine Walker
Catherine Walker

A Directory of Social Change analysis of claims there is a "donation deficit" among young people has said there is "no massive generation gap" to worry about.

The generation game: is there really a generation gap in giving?, written by Catherine Walker, head of sector trends, evidence, analysis and metrics at the DSC, looked into controversy surrounding last month’s Charities Aid Foundation report, Mind The Gap: the growing generational divide in charitable giving, which has been criticised by sector academics for saying that there is a crisis in giving among the under 30s.

Walker said in her analysis: "It has been said that politicians use statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts – for support, not illumination. Never has that been more true than in the recent case of the Charities Aid Foundation’s new report.

"I’m not about to join the debate and say who I think is right or wrong," she said. "What I want to do is to use this example to highlight the dangers of data interpretation, particularly when it involves political axes or hungry media hounds."

Walker said that, in her opinion, the analysis of the facts that has taken place since the CAF report was launched showed that "you must always look at all the facts before making up your mind and believing the hype" and that "there is no massive generation gap in giving to be worried about, at least not in the way in which it has been portrayed in the media".

"As a researcher, of course, I abhor the misuse of facts: quoting partial truths or downright misleading interpretations of data to support political or more media-friendly angles," Walker said. "But is it really possible to ever be totally objective about data?"

Richard Harrison, director of research at CAF, said: "We are delighted that people across the voluntary sector are debating the issues raised by our report on generations and giving. We are confident that the conclusions drawn – which point to significant differences in pre and post-war generations – are supported by the data outlined in this report.

"If people start to think more about how we can engage younger generations with giving, and the work of charities, then the sector will have been usefully assisted."

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