2006 Social Capital Benchmark Study

2006 SURVEY RESULTS

Survey results from the 2006 National Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey indicated that Forsyth County residents were volunteering and participating in community-building activities at a higher level than they were in 2000.  Forsyth County continued to be a place where residents were generous in giving money to organizations that serve the community, especially to religious organizations.  According to the Foundation’s president, Scott Wierman, “People in Winston-Salem have long been good at doing things for others, but not as good at doing things with others.  Initial findings from the 2006 study indicate that there continues to be a strong ethic of ‘doing for’ others, and possibly some movement toward ‘doing with’ others.”

The 2000 survey suggested that Forsyth County was more trusting than the rest of the country when it came to people within one’s social network (at church, in the neighborhood); but less trusting than the rest of the country when it came to people outside of that network and people of different races.  This pattern seemed to have turned around to some degree.  Residents were socializing more often with others in public places as well as socializing with people of other races in their homes.

SURVEY BREAKDOWN

Monetary Giving

Forsyth County continued to be a place where residents are generous in giving money to organizations that serve the community, especially to religious organizations.

  • A greater proportion of Forsyth County respondents (72%) donated money to nonprofit organizations in 2005 than did respondents in the national sample (67%).
  • In 2006, there was an even greater difference when looking at giving of at least $500: Forsyth County (27%) vs. national sample (20%).
  • Forsyth County exceeded national norms even more when it came to giving to religious organizations.
    • % who gave any money: Forsyth County (80%) vs. national sample (70%)
    • % who gave at least $500: Forsyth County (48%) vs. national sample (34%)

Engagement in Activities that Serve the Community

Residents in Forsyth County were volunteering and participating in community-building activities at higher levels than they were in 2000, in contrast to the country as a whole where engagement remained relatively flat.  With this increase, the 2006 levels of volunteering and civic engagement in Forsyth County were significantly higher than they were in the country as a whole (in 2000 the levels were comparable).

Volunteering

  • The proportion of Forsyth County respondents who had volunteered at least once in the past year increased from 53.4% to 64.7% from 2000 to 2006. This 11.3% increase was much greater than the 4.3% increase that occurred nationally (54.3% to 58.6%).
  • Forsyth County also saw a greater-than background increase in frequent volunteering.
    • The proportion of Forsyth County respondents who volunteered at least 5 times in the prior year increased from 32.4% to 42.8% from 2000 to 2006.  This 10.4% increase was much greater than the 3.0% increase that occurred nationally (35.6% to 38.6%).
    • The proportion of Forsyth County respondents who volunteered at least 13 times (more than once a month) increased from 15.0% to 20.8% from 2000 to 2006. This 5.8% increase was much greater than the 1.9% increase that occurred in the national sample (17.3% to 19.2%).
  • An increase was also observed in respondents' working to fix things up in their neighborhoods.  Local participation increased by 4 percentage points (from 29% to 33%), compared to a one-point increase among the national sample (31% to 32%).

Involvement in Service-Oriented Organizations

  • Whereas involvement in neighborhood associations declined nationally between 2000 and 2006 (from 23.3% to 20.5%), it increased in Forsyth County (from 26.7% to 29.3%)
  • Residents in Forsyth County were more likely than their counterparts across the country to be involved with organizations that provide services that support health and well-being (41.6% vs. 33.9%).  The proportion increased more in Forsyth than it did among the national sample (4.9% vs. 2.1%).

Involvement in Organizations that Support Youth

  • There was a noteworthy increase [from 16.2% to 27.8% (11.6 percentage points)] in the proportion of Forsyth County respondents who were involved with a parents' association (like the PTA or PTO, or other school support or service group).  Nationally, the figure stayed the same (21%).  
  • The Forsyth sample (all over 18 years of age) also reported increased involvement in youth-serving organizations (e.g., youth sports leagues, scouting, 4-H clubs, Boys & Girls Clubs).  The proportion increased from 17.5% in the 2000 survey to 22.3% (4.8 percentage points), slightly greater than the 3.5 percentage point increase among the national sample (21.3% to 24.8%).

Leadership within Community Organizations

In the 2000 survey there was evidence that leadership positions in community organizations were held by a relatively small group of “elite” (e.g., higher income, higher education level, and predominantly Caucasian) residents.  The results from the 2006 survey suggest that more residents and a more diverse group of residents were serving in these roles, in contrast to trends in other communities. Several caveats exist for this portion of the research: caution must be taken due to the small numbers within sub-samples, and the survey does not contain as many items on leadership as desired.

  • The proportion of respondents playing a leadership role within an organization (i.e., serving as an officer or on a committee) increased from 15.6% to 19.3% in Forsyth County (3.7 percentage points), while remaining constant within the national sample (17.6%).
  • The increase was particularly pronounced among African-Americans in the Forsyth County sample (from 15.9% to 23.5%).

Social Interaction (including interaction across race)

Possibly due to increased opportunities afforded by a revitalized downtown, residents in Forsyth County were socializing more often with others in public places.  Given the racial diversity of the group that is going downtown, this afforded more potential for interacting with and getting to know persons of a different race.  Correspondingly, there was increased socializing across race within residents' homes.

  • Residents of Forsyth County were more likely to hang out with friends in public places, and there seems to be a growing group that does this on a regular basis.
    • At least once a month:  increased from 73% to 80% in Forsyth County, but virtually no change in national sample (76% to 75%)
    • At least twice a month:  increased from 16.8% to 25.2% in Forsyth County, while staying virtually the same nationally (23.8% to 23.4%)
  • There was a modest increase in reports of residents socializing in their homes with residents of a different race
    • The proportion of Forsyth County respondents who reported that they had been in the home of a friend of a different race (or had been the host) within the past year increased from 67% to 71%.  There was virtually no change among the national sample (68%).
    • The proportion reporting that they had done this at least four times in the past year also increased by four percentage points:  from 43% to 47%.

Social Trust

The 2000 survey suggested that Forsyth County was more trusting than the rest of the country when it came to people within one’s social network (at church, in the neighborhood); but less trusting than the rest of the country when it came to people outside that network (e.g., people in general) and people of a different race.  This pattern flipped to some extent since 2000, in part because the rest of the country had become less trusting over these six years, whereas Forsyth County showed signs of increased trust.  However, the picture is complicated and depends on the particular survey item that one is examining.

General Trust

  • In the 2000 survey, the proportion of respondents who reported that “most people can be trusted” was lower in Forsyth County than in the national sample (40.5% vs. 48.1%). Conversely, Forsyth County was higher on “you can’t be too careful” (53.3% vs. 45.2%). Nationally, there was a drop in “people can be trusted” from 48.1% in 2000 to 43.5% in 2006. National sample responses to “you can’t be too careful” moved from 45.2% in 2000 to 51.7% in 2006.
  • Among African-Americans, the proportion indicating that “people can be trusted” increased from 22% to 30% in Forsyth County. In the national sample, the increase was smaller (26% to 28%).
  • African-Americans in Forsyth County were less likely than whites to report that “people can be trusted” (30% vs. 48%).  However this racial difference declined from 2000 results (African-Americans - 22% vs. whites - 48%). 

Trust People in the Neighborhood

  • African-Americans in Forsyth County reported more trust of their neighbors in 2006 than in 2000:  “Trust them a lot” increased from 22% to 28.6%, while “Trust them not at all” decreased from 14% to 9.7%.  These changes were greater than observed among African-Americans in the national sample – although the figures improved there as well.
  • Among whites, there was a slight decrease in those indicating that they trusted people in their neighborhoods “a lot” – from 57% to 54.5%.  A similar decline occurred nationally.
  • Despite these changes, there continued to be large racial differences to the degree in which respondents reported that they could trust people in their neighborhood.  For example, 30.6% of African Americans trusted their neighbors either “only a little” or “not at all,” compared to 6.9% among whites.  The disparity is similar within the national sample.

Interracial Trust 

  • Whites in Forsyth County reported higher levels of trust in African-Americans in 2006 than in 2000.
    • 24% in 2000 vs. 29% in 2006 responded “a lot”
    • 80.4% vs. 87.4% responded either “a lot” or “some”
  • Whites also reported increased trust for Hispanics and Asians from 2000 to 2006
    • 73.7% vs. 78.0% trusted Hispanics either “a lot” or “some”
    • 77.1% vs. 80.3% trusted Asians either “a lot” or “some”
  • African-Americans reported less trust in whites from 2000 to 2006
    • 19.8% vs. 15.3% trusted whites “a lot”
    • However, there was also a drop in the proportion who trusted whites “not at all” – from 5.4% to 1.5%
  • A similar mixed picture results for how African-Americans’ trust of Hispanics changed from 2000 to 2006
    • Declined from 11.4% to 9.7% trusted Hispanics “a lot”
    • But the percentage who trusted Hispanics either “a lot” or “some” increased from 66.3% to 72.5%.
  • Whites reported trusting African-Americans more than African- Americans reported trusting whites
    • 29% of whites trusted African-Americans “a lot”; while 15.3% of African-Americans trusted whites “a lot”
    • 87.4% of whites trusted African-Americans either “a lot” or “some”; while  81.1% of African-Americans trusted whites either “a lot” or “some”
  • Whites reported somewhat less trust of African-Americans than of whites
    • 31.4% trusted whites “a lot” vs. 29.1% trusted African-Americans “a lot”
    • 88.7% trusted whites either “a lot” or “some,” while 87.4% trusted African-Americans either “a lot” or “some”
  • African Americans reported trusting whites at about the same level as they trusted African-Americans
    • 14.5% trusted African-Americans “a lot,” while 15.3% trusted whites “a lot”
    • 82.1% trusted African-Americans either “a lot” or “some,” while 81.1% trusted whites either “a lot” or “some”
 
 


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