The objective of the 2019 Social Capital survey was to capture panelists’ social connections within and across local communities. The survey measured everything from neighborhood characteristics, participation in various groups and associations, political activism, the variety of volunteer activities, and to the diversity of friendship patterns.
Data on civic engagement, social cohesion, and other aspects of social capital have been collected for many years and for a variety of purposes. Information gleaned has been used to document conditions of policy importance, enlighten the public more generally, and reinforce social science research. One such activity was the Current Population Survey’s (CPS) “Volunteering and Civic Life Supplement,” collected in September 2017. The CPS supplement was a national survey conducted to obtain information about the number of individuals in the U.S. involved in unpaid volunteer activities, and to measure the frequency with which individuals volunteer. The survey also identifies the types of organizations that facilitate volunteerism, and the types of activities in which volunteers participate. Where possible, comparisons are made between results from the BeHeardCVA survey and the CPS supplement results for all of Virginia.
- A variety of categories were selected by respondents for the duration of residency and location of their residence on the rural-urban continuum. Nearly half (48.3 %) of BeHeardCVA members have lived at their current address for more than 10 years. Most respondents (55.9 %) characterized the area in which they live as either urban or suburban.
- Respondents were asked to rate their area of residence on a scale from 1 (the worst possible community in which to live) to 10 (best possible community). The overall average rating was 7.95 suggesting strong satisfaction, and when the rating is examined by geography, the rating is nearly identical between Charlottesville City (7.99), Albemarle County (7.97), and the outlying area of Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson Counties (7.84).
- More than half of respondents (52.2%) said that they knew 6 or more neighbors on a first-name basis.
- When asked about membership in various civic and volunteer organizations, the top 5 responses were health and sporting clubs (58.4 %), religious organizations (45.5 %), neighborhood or homeowner associations (43.9 %), professional societies (38.2 %), and hobby, garden, or recreation groups (29.7 %).
- Regardless of age, a high percentage (70 percent or more) of respondents indicated that they had volunteered time during the past year to organizations such as charities, schools, hospitals, religious organizations, neighborhood associations, and civic or other groups. These volunteerism results are essentially the opposite of what was found in the 2017 CPS Supplement survey for the entire state of Virginia, where 69 percent indicated not doing volunteer work in the past year.
- Men and women had similar preferences for the types of organizations that they volunteered for, however, their popularity did vary. Each gender selected the same organization (disease-related causes) as having the highest rate of volunteerism (39.3 % for men and 40.6 % for women). Political advocacy was selected second most often by men (37.4 %) and third by female respondents (31.7 %). Environment or conservation groups were the second most volunteered by female respondents (33.7 %), but came in fourth for men (25.2 %).
- Most respondents (53.4 %) indicated having talked with or spent time with non-residing family members or friends daily. This compares with 62.1 percent reported by CPS for Virginians in 2017.
- More than half of all respondents (53.8 %) reported either daily or weekly interactions with people from a racial, ethnic, or cultural background that was different than theirs. This compares with 58.7 percent in the 2017 CPS supplement, where more than 43 percent of Virginians had daily interactions.
- Respondents from outlying localities were less likely to have posted views about political, societal, or local issues on the internet or social media (57.8 % “not at all”) than were those from Albemarle (49.5 % “not at all”) or Charlottesville (45.6 % “not at all”). Respondents from outlying areas, however, did report the highest percentage of everyday posting (9.7 %) when compared with other localities.
More detail can be found in the full report.