A healthy thing happened on the way to the forum…

This week during the Institute for Emerging Issues’ annual forum, entitled Innovation Reconstructed, the IEI released its 2015 North Carolina Civic Health Index. This report, produced in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship, reveals some interesting information on North Carolinians as well as some recommendations on how we can improve our civic health. This is a topic we are paying attention to here at NCCF.

We know that improved civic health can be a strong economic differentiator — for rural and urban communities alike. So what exactly is civic health?  The report defines it as: “the social and economic vitality that results when citizens interact productively with their neighbors, involve themselves in community institutions and actively engage in public issues.” Communities that have a high level of civic health benefit from strong social networks that are marked by trust and common purpose.

Clearly our affiliates are concerned about the civic health of their respective communities. A community foundation exists to provide giving options for people, to conduct effective grantmaking programs and to provide a platform for community leaders, conveners and catalysts around pressing community issues and needs. If we want to ensure strong and vibrant communities, then working together, maintaining two-way communication and ensuring that the philanthropic table is open and welcoming are all important things for us to focus on.

One compelling metric provided in the report was around the comparison of charitable giving over the years. In 2013, 53% of North Carolinians made a charitable donation of $25 or more, which beat the national average of 50% as a whole. Really? Only 53%? Does that surprise you? I believe everyone I know gave a donation somewhere, sometime last year, but the report identifies Utah as the strongest giving state – with nearly 67% of residents donating $25 or more.

There are all sorts of data points contained in the full report that can be accessed here at emergingissues.org.

The point of all this and so much that I heard at this year’s Forum is that we’re doing okay, maybe even well in many indices measuring our civic health. But the potential is there for greatness.

Let’s go for it.