Giving Compass' Take:

• Many individuals who are working in the nonprofit or philanthropy industry are trying to understand if the increased rate of civic engagement will turn into a long-lasting movement. 

• The imperative to be civically engaged in society right now is strong, but will it lead to creating change and/or sustainability?

• Read about how donors can understand more about the importance of civic engagement and democracy and what to do. 

Civic involvement is at-large in the present day, however is it here to stay?

“Why do you think civic engagement feels so salient and urgent right now?” First, people are trying to make sense of an objectively difficult moment for our country, and want to take personal responsibility and pride for their part in settling the tumult.

Second, while some organizations are reporting record engagement, it’s still a little unclear how much of this overall civic action is truly new and/or sustainable, versus how much is merely getting more public and media attention due to the emotional fervor of the day, and attempts to make sense of it.

It’s no secret that people lack trust in the leaders and institutions that exist to serve them, but there’s also a lack of trust in democracy, and in our fellow citizens.

The limitations of the binary representative system also mean that even if you like, support and trust your representative systems or leadership, you’re highly unlikely to agree with them 100% of the time. Therefore, our civic engagement has to regularly and consistently go beyond the representation we might empower at the voting booth to ensure our voices are heard on a timely, active and regular basis. This beyond-the-booth engagement, too, is a fundamental tenet of civic participation.

The reason our work feels so urgent in this moment is because those of us who do this work know that realizing the change we seek in a sustainable way will mean shifting our collective perceptions of what civic engagement looks like.

Whether that feeling is a fad or a reality is on all of us in the fields of philanthropy and civic engagement to support.

Read the full article about civic engagement by Kristen Cambell at United Philanthropy Forum