Giving Compass' Take:

•  The author explores why Americans' sense of wellbeing has not improved since 2017 and wants to understand the role of civil society and trust that comes into making people feel better about their lives. 

• How can we strengthen commitment to positive civil society practices that will restore trust? 

• Learn about the challenges that come with big data, civil society, and protecting privacy. 

Known by many names—including the charitable sector, impact sector, voluntary sector, and nonprofit sector—civil society is almost incomprehensively vast and diverse.

When I speak of civil society, I ground it in a notion of private action in service of the public good—as opposed to public action for public good (which is government), or private action for private good (which is business).

Even as government increased its formal relationship with civil society, institutional and corporate philanthropy also evolved a unique role in the common good ecosystem. From “big bets” to capacity building, philanthropy has been a primary engine of innovation for many of America’s most transformative programs and ideas. Without robust philanthropic organizations investing in a diverse set of nonprofits, civil society would be much compromised in its ability to partner with business and government in promoting and protecting the common good.

Every year, Gallup asks some 175,000 respondents to rate their lives based on five interrelated factors of wellbeing: sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security, relationship to community, and physical health.The trends are not encouraging. Despite a generally good year economically, wellbeing saw an unprecedented drop in 2017—worse than 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession. Last year, there were significant, widespread drops in wellbeing among women, low-income households, Democrats, and political independents. Wellbeing among men and Republicans merely broke even, despite their perceived political ascendancy. Not a single state saw a year-over-year increase in wellbeing. Meanwhile, communities of color reported statistically significant declines, led by blacks and Hispanics.

Read the full article about civil society by Dan Cardinali at Stanford Social Innovation Review