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Community Organizations: Summary & Data Highlights

King County adults were most likely to participate in educational or religious organizations, least likely to participate in political or civic groups.

Involvement in community organizations was measured by asking King County adults how actively they had participated in 7 specific types of organizations in the past 12 months, and if they had participated in any additional organizations.   

In 2011, 70% of King County adults were “very active” or “somewhat active” in at least 1 organization in their community. 

  • King County adults were most likely to be active in school/educational organizations or religious groups or congregations.
  • Fewer than 1 in 6 King County adults were active in civic or political groups.

Involvement in 1 or more community organizations did not differ by age, race/ethnicity, gender, country of birth, primary language, region, or military service.

Activity in community groups varied by income, education, employment, and health. Participation in 1 or more organizations was associated with …

  • … living in a household where annual income was at or above $75,000.
  • … having a college degree.
  • … being a homemaker or student.
  • … being in excellent, very good, or good health.

Having children in the household and being in a couple relationship were both related to participation in community organizations.

  • Children make a difference because several of the most popular types of groups focused on youth.
  • Adults in married or unmarried couple relationships were more likely than single adults to participate in youth, educational, and neighborhood groups (data not shown).

Although King County regions did not differ in the overall percentages of adults involved in community organizations, region did matter for the types of organizations with which adults were involved.

  • Seattle and East Region adults were more likely than adults in South Region to say they were active in school or educational organizations.
  • Adults in East and South Regions were more likely than those in Seattle and North Region to report activity in youth and youth sports organizations.
  • Seattle adults were less likely than those in other regions to say they were active in a religious organization.

Gender and age were related to the types of organizations chosen for active participation.

  • Women were more likely than men to be active in educational and youth organizations.
  • Older adults were less likely than younger adults to be active in educational and youth groups.
  • Adults 25-44 were least likely to be active in religious organizations.
  • Only 1 in 10 adults age 25-44 were involved in political organizations, compared to more than double that rate for adults age 65 and older.

Race, ethnicity, place of birth, and primary language were not associated with participation in specific types of community organizations.

Because of a change in methods, no clear trends in participation from 2004 to 2011 could be determined.

"I went to the Seattle City Council Committee hearing about the education levy that they’re trying to pass….  I really feel like there’s big educational disparities between the North Seattle schools and the South Seattle schools. I did a research project on this in graduate school and the outcomes for kids are really starkly different and part of that I’m sure has to do with the family, or the environment at home…. But I also feel like the funding is very different and that the city is giving more or less to a particular school. It also depends on how strong the PTA is, how much they’re able to support the schools so more funding could come to the schools in the South…. It infuriates me!  … this is our community and I want my son to be able to go to a good school."
Mother of 1 child in 2-parent middle-income family living in South Seattle