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walden-geny-change-sep-2011.JPGLarge percentages of Gen Y adults age 18-34 have engaged a variety of activities to promote positive social change in the last 12 months, according to [pdf] a study from Walden University and Harris Interactive released in September 2011. Results from the “Social Change Impact Report” indicate 81% of Gen Y adults have donated money, goods or services.

In addition, 70% of Gen Y adults have educated others about a cause or issue, and 68% have participated in volunteer work or service. Other social change activities in which more than half of Gen Y adults have participated during the last 12 months include signing an online or written petition (60%), fundraising for a cause (56%), and expressing an opinion on a positive social change issue by posting a comment on a blog or other website (52%).

Boomers, Matures Have Highest Participation in Some Change Activities

Study data shows the Baby Boomer and Mature generations are more likely than younger generations to have engaged in a variety of actions to further social change in the past year, including donating money, goods or services (Matures: 96%; Baby Boomers: 88%; Gen Y: 81%; Gen X: 81%); signing an online or written petition (77%; 69%; 64%; 60%); writing to or calling a politician at the local, state or federal level (65%; 65%; 47%; 41%); or expressing an opinion on positive social change by writing to an editor of a newspaper or magazine or calling into a radio or TV show (51%; 46%; 34%; 33%).

Overall, 99% of Matures and 93% of Baby Boomers have participated in activities to engage in social change in the past 12 months, compared to 89% of Gen Xers and 90% of Gen Yers.

8 in 10 Adults Say Digital Tech Makes Connecting Easier

walden-digital-social-change-sep-2011.JPGAbout eight in 10 adults across all generations (82%) agree that digital technology has made it easier for them to connect with others who are interested in the same causes or issues that they are. Adults believe that digital technology makes it easier to accomplish a variety of activities integral to positive social change, particularly following news and events related to positive social change (79%) and increasing awareness about a positive social change issue or need (77%).

Interestingly, the notion that digital technology makes it easier to accomplish a variety of social change activities is not driven by younger, arguably more “tech savvy” adults, but by older generations. Baby Boomers and Matures are significantly more likely than Gen Y and Gen X to believe digital technology makes it easier to follow news and events related to social change, give direct help to those in need and make a positive change in local areas.

8 in 10 Adults Say Digital Tech Makes Social Change Involvement Easier

Eight in 10 adults also agree that thanks to digital technology, people are getting involved in positive social change issues faster and more frequently than ever before, and this belief is even stronger among the older generations (Matures: 85%; Baby Boomers: 86%; Gen X: 84%; Gen Y: 80%).

Study data shows sizable numbers of Americans have engaged in social change through digital means, such as expressing an opinion on a social change issue on a blog or website (36%; 49%; 47%; 52% ); joining or creating a group on a social networking site that was dedicated to an issue (30%; 35%; 43%; 49%); or texting to make donations, vote, organize a demonstration, etc. (36%; 33%; 37%; 35%).

Other Findings

  • Overall, 92% of US adults have taken at least one action to promote positive social change in the past year.
  • Three in four (77%) say it is important for them to be personally involved in social change.
  • Education is the social change issue the largest percentages of adults say is most important now (40%) and will be most important in five to 10 years (63%).

Georgetown: Minorities More Involved w/Causes

More than half of African-Americans and Hispanics are involved with causes, according to a June 2011 study based on data collected in late 2010 by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. Results of “Dynamics of Cause Engagement” indicate 53% of African-Americans and 52% of Hispanics, but only 42% of Caucasians, are very or somewhat involved with a cause. Thus both African-Americans and Hispanics engage with causes at a rate about 25% higher than Caucasians. Overall, 45% of Americans are very or somewhat involved with a cause.

About the Data: Harris Interactive conducted a national survey online within the US of 2,148 U.S. adults (age 18 and older) between March 16 and March 24, 2011. The study was commissioned by Walden University.

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