Points of Light Releases New Report Examining the State of American Civic Engagement and the Path Forward for Businesses and Nonprofits to Inspire Service and Volunteerism

The report is the most current and comprehensive of its kind since the COVID-19 pandemic

Atlanta| Sep 22, 2020

Today, Points of Lighta global nonprofit organization that inspires, equips and mobilizes millions of people to take action that changes the world, released a new report on the state of American civic engagement. To best understand current perceptions of civic life and identify a path forward for businesses, nonprofits, and individuals, Points of Light, in partnership with AT&THart Research and Carol Cone ON PURPOSE, surveyed adults about their behaviors, attitudes and motivations for civic engagement. This research is a comprehensive look into the current state of civic engagement, a universal desire to do more in the future, and how we can help convert good intentions into positive action. 

Natalye Paquin, president and CEO of Points of Light said, “At a time when companies are committing to fostering service and civic engagement among their workforces, and nonprofits need more support than ever before so they can continue providing critical services to those in need, motivating individuals to take action is imperative. People are looking to businesses and nonprofits to provide leadership and accessible opportunities to give back, and we look forward to helping them do exactly that.”  

Uncovering How to Catalyze Civic Engagement  

A key component of Points of Light’s civic engagement research report is better understanding of the American mindset on civic engagement. Points of Light conducted a nationwide survey to explore Americans’ attitudes, behaviors and motivations for civic engagement, and results have implications for civic engagement across the globe.1 

The findings from the study revealed the following key themes about Americans today: 

  • COVID-19 and its Anticipated Impact on Civic Life. There is widespread belief that all areas of civic life, such as voting, volunteering and donating to nonprofits, will be more important after COVID-19. Nearly two in five Americans, and more than half of Gen Zers, say they will do more than they did before the pandemic to get involved. 
  • Inspiring EngagementAmericans are most encouraged to participate in civic life for reasons related to personal fulfillmentThey want to see their impact on the communities they serve, and they want to address issues of personal interest to improve their local communities.  
  • Issue Priorities for Civic Engagement. At the time of fielding, Americans were most concerned with engaging in civic life to address issues like healthcare and hunger, among some other issues.  
  • The Future Face of Service. Gen Z Americans are leading the future of civic life with new ways of engagement. They use their voice through their purchase power and employment choices, and use social networks to learn and speak about issues they care about. 
  • Volunteering Preferences, Barriers and Incentives. Those most interested in volunteering have a notably strong preference for activities they can do regularly and in person. 

The report also supports Points of Light’s Civic Circle. The Civic Circle is a framework to help companies around the world create a variety of workforce service commitments by giving them tools to institute and streamline their volunteer processes – a critical resource now more than everThis framework, and Point of Light’s Community for Employee Civic Engagement, enables employees to go beyond performative allyship and commit to actions that can truly make a difference in their communities. The Civic Circle also help nonprofits and individuals understand the many ways to do good and actively participate in creating a better world. 

“At Points of Light, we are confident this new decade will hold a strong future for social change for a more just and equitable world,” said Jenny Lawson, chief civic innovation officer at Points of Light. “Society expects that CEOs will lead social issues and ignite change when they sense a lack of authenticity and action, so it is our hope this research can effectively help our corporate and nonprofit partners take this charge.” 

On Monday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. ET, Points of Light will host a special webinar with Hart Research and Carol Cone ON PURPOSE to discuss the research findings in more detail. Click here to register. You can view the full civic engagement research report here. You can also find more information on Points of Light’s Civic Circle framework here.   

About Points of Light 

Points of Light is a global nonprofit organization that inspires, equips and mobilizes millions of people to take action that changes the world. We envision a world in which every individual discovers the power to make a difference, creating healthy communities in vibrant, participatory societies. Through affiliates in 200 cities across 37 countries, and in partnership with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages 5 million volunteers in 14 million hours of service each year. We bring the power of people to where it’s needed most. For more information, go to www.pointsoflight.org. 

About Hart Research Associates 

Hart Research Associates is one of the leading research firms in the United States and has been at the cutting edge of change in public opinion since its founding in 1971. Its clients include organizations from virtually every major sector of society, including candidates for public office and political parties, labor unions, the nonprofit and policy advocacy sector, business, health and medicine, technology, journalism, law, education, and the arts. For more information, go to www.hartresearch.com 

About Carol Cone ON PURPOSE – CCOP
With a team that combines unmatched expertise in the purpose industry and movement-building, as well as hands-on working knowledge of break-through partnership development and civic engagement, CCOP is an agile, innovative consultancy that leads the Purpose industry. 

CCOP includes strategists, creators, and communicators who understand how to catalyze change. Whether launching a groundbreaking new campaign or reconceiving well-tested legacy programs, CCOP philosophy is to engage stakeholders, to build loyalty to waves of action to sustain positive change. The firm’s client programs have realized double-digit growth in sales and employee engagement, hundreds of awards, billions of media impressions, and more than $3 billion in social impact. Learn more at CarolConeONPURPOSE.com 

1 Points of Light commissioned Hart Research Associates to conduct an online survey of N=1,441 adults nationwide, including N=1,126 adults age 18+ with oversamples of 204 Gen Z adults and 111 Millennials. The survey was conducted from May 13 to 19, 2020. The confidence interval for proportion estimates is +/- 2.8 percentage points.

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