Monday, 28 November 2011

What did the Baby Boomers ever do for us?

Meeting Francis Beckett tomorrow so do you have any questions for him? His thesis is that the self obsessed generation took the money and ran, with little regard for the consequences. He might be right. A lot of my friends have made a lot of money in property and financial services. On the other hand there are quite a few Gen X successes with computers and the internet, not to mention Gen Y and professional sport. I think what is really interesting (if sad) is that that the gap in the distribution of wealth is widening not shrinking.

Philip Beresford has commented that when he started doing the Sunday Times Rich List 25 years ago, 85% of the wealth was inherited. Today 85% is first generation. People are creating fortunes rather as they did at the end of the 19th Century and there are perhaps some more rather disturbing parallels.

Unfortunately, as Wilkinson and Pickett comment in The Spirit Level,happiness and good health lies with reduced wealth gaps and greater equality in distribution. Its a good read and very worrying that the UK is moving in the wrong direction. I'm not however convinced that it is all the fault of the baby boomers. The banking problems for example started with Reagan and Thatcher, both Seniors or members of the Silent Generation!

Watch this space and let me know if you think Beckett's got it right?

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Poppy Appeal - good fundraising or too hard a sell?

Very interesting discussion yesterday on Radio 5. Do take a look at where the discussion is after 1 hour and 18 minutes and let me know what you think.

There has been some very interesting comment over the last few days about the pressures people are under to wear a poppy for the two weeks up to Remembrance Sunday. My point was that whilst the British Legion have done a great job reviving the appeal and in particular getting individuals and organisations to respect the two minute silance at 11.00am, we hear increasing tales of people being castigated for not wearing a poppy. Forget the English and Welsh football teams, why did everyone on "Strictly Come Dancing" need to wear one? We remember, surely, with our hearts and minds not what we wear on our breasts or arms.

I do feel that the pendulum has swung too far with celebrity poppies and now "Bling" poppies at £60 saying "I can afford more than you!" What killed off the wrist band, in my opinion, is the fact that everyone got in on the act and there was complete confusion in the brand identity. I do worry that Russell Thompson will have to work hard on this one to avoid fragmentation and a lack of clarity.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Street Canvassers or Chuggers - Is Richard Coles right or as grumpy as me?

Following the Rev's outburst against Street Canvassers at last week (Guardian 28/10/11) the media are having a frenzy about the antics of fundraisers who pursue people onto buses and the like! Personally I suspect dirty tricks! What canvasser in their right mind would think high pressure works in persuading people to give money away?

I was on the Tony Livesey show last night on Radio 5 and we discussed the efficacy of canvassing. The reality is, of course, that it recruits younger givers (donors give blood and party parts) who won't respond to traditional DM or even DRTV. Properly managed it's an important part of the mix. Alexi Short took the opposite stance and suggested that we can do other things as canvassing is too intrusive, threatening and possibly expensive. Interestingly I note that her charity, Winston's Wish that doesn't use street canvassers has about a 42% investment rate so they certainly aren't doing it all with volunteers and coffee mornings!

I tried to make the point, that even the Rev does't get, is that rather than ignore canvassers (who likes to be ignored after all?) people simple need to make eye contact, smile and say no thank you, I've made my charitable donations for this month and walk on. Those who haven't perhaps might ponder why and if they would feel less guilty if they did make informed decisions about who to support.