Donations as a Measure of Civic Engagement
Posted by Allison Fine on April 21, 2010
I saw a tweet this morning from Allison Jones from a presentation the amazing Kim Klein was giving in Detroit. The tweet read, “Kim Klein: more people donate $$ than vote or volunteer via @new_org”
I began to wonder whether we’ve been missing an opportunity to use donations as a measure of civic engagement. On land volunteerism and voting are traditional measures of local civic engagement. They are proxy’s for local social capital and stickiness. Here is a typical article on the connection between voting and local social capital and a blog post on volunteerism and social capital. But you won’t find articles or posts on donations and social capital.
The assumption is that writing a check is too passive to be considered engagement. In the same way that some folks think that clicking to raise awareness of an issue, such as clicking to support breast cancer, is too small, light, passive to be considered by some to be true participation.
I reject both of these arguments. I think any time someone does something for a cause, no matter how light, it is an opening and an opportunity for developing a stronger relationship with them.
Beth has illustrated this relationship in a diagram called The Ladder of Engagement:
The more interesting question than whether or not donations equal engagement is how nonprofits are being successful stepping people up this ladder of engagement. We wrestle with this a bit in our book The Networked Nonprofit. More to come on this in the weeks and months ahead!
This entry was posted on April 21, 2010 at 11:39 am and is filed under Social Media. Tagged: Allison Jones, beth kanter, donations, kim klein, Ladder of Engagement, Social capital. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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