Friday, September 25, 2009

Civic Health in Hard Times

A new report is out, called Civic Health in Hard Times.  From the summary:
The survey’s results reflect the hard choices Americans have made during the downturn, with 72 percent of respondents saying they have cut back on time engaged in civic participation, which includes time spent volunteering, participating in groups or performing other civic activities in their communities. Public perception supports this finding, as 66 percent of Americans say they feel other people are responding to the current economic downturn by looking out for themselves, with only 19 percent saying people around them are responding to the recession by helping each other more.
Translation: When the economy goes bad people spend less -- both in money, and in their time.

Non-profits have already watched this decline at a time their own funds have disappeared into risky investments.  And now people are giving less, of their time.  People under stress find it difficult to do the things they used to do, at a time when it's probably even more important that they do it.  Human nature in action.

Any loss in engagement will also influence something like knowledge.  The two are often intertwined (but not always, as my post the other day elaborated on when talking about political content from Facebook).

I'd love a more detailed breakdown of the folks who reported helping more because of the recession versus those who pulled back.  Are there some consistencies?  This gets fun because it turns out conservatives tend to give more than liberals, at least in money, to non-profits and the like.  This is mostly fueled by church giving, but it probably goes deeper than that, so I'd love to see a more detailed breakdown.

A non-pdf of the report here, a full pdf of the report here.

No comments: