Soul of the Community (SOTC) is a three-year study conducted by Gallup of the 26 Knight Foundation communities across the United States focusing on the emotional side of the connection between residents and their communities.
In its first year, the study compared residents' engagement level to the GDP growth in the 26 communities over the past five years. The findings (overall report, reports by community) show a significant correlation between community-citizen engagement and the economic growth. 10 domains that were found to have varying levels of impact in driving community-citizen engagement:
* Basic services ' infrastructure supports (highways, housing and healthcare) * Economy * Safety * Leadership and elected officials * Aesthetics ' physical beauty and green spaces * Education * Social offerings - opportunities for social interaction and citizen caring * Openness/welcomeness ' how welcoming the community is to different people * Civic involvement - residents' commitment to their community through voting or voluntarism * Social capital ' social networks between residents
Social offerings is the most important driver of community-citizen engagement overall. Aesthetics and openness/welcomeness to others also have major influence on community-citizen engagement.
Over the coming years, the researchers will analyze the trends of both community-citizen engagement and economic growth and definitively show whether community engagement drives economic growth or the other way around.
Within a smaller microcosm, such as a company, Gallup has been able to show that increasing employee engagement will indeed lead to improved financial performance.
Gallup and Knight Foundation will conduct the second wave of the survey in spring of 2009. The additional data will help show the impact of the economic crisis on emotional community-citizen engagement.
What parts of this study would you like more information about?