Participation and Volunteering

According to the 2006 Civic and Political Health of a Nation there are three main categories for this kind of civic volunteerism or engagement:

  • “Civic activities generally focus on improving ones’ local community and helping individuals. Examples of civic activities include volunteer service, joining a local civic association, or supporting a non-profit organization or cause by participating in a fundraiser
  • Electoral activities concentrate on the political process and include activities such as voting, persuading others to vote, or volunteering for a political campaign, and
  • Political voice activities are things people do to express their political or social viewpoints and include activities like writing to an elected official, sending an e-mail petition, or protesting” (p. 6).

In this indicator, individuals are participating and volunteering, but not leading the efforts, and they may or may not be fully engaged.  In other words, they may be participating because a friend invited them along or a group they belong to organized an event.  While participating is important for the individual and society, it is also important that the individual internalize why participating is important, to initiate participation on one’s own, and for some individuals to take on the leadership/organizing responsibilities (see Active Engagement and Leadership indicator).

By Urban Institute


Sources Cited

Lopez, M. H., Levine, P., Both, D., Kiesa, A., Kirby, E., & Marcelo, K. (2006). The 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation: A Detailed Look at How Youth Participate in Politics and Communities.  Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).

Zaff, J., Boyd, M., Li, Y., Lerner, J.V., Lerner, R.M. (2010). Active and engaged citizenship: Multi-group and longitudinal factorial analysis of an integrated construct of civic engagement. Journal of Youth Adolescence, published online May 15, 2010.