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Results from Walden University’s 2012 Social Change Impact Report show that two-thirds of adults across the globe (65%, on average) agree that when economic conditions are bad, it is more important to be involved in social change than when economic conditions are good.

Commissioned by Walden University and conducted online by Harris Interactive in February and March of 2012, the second annual Social Change Impact Report survey includes perspectives of more than 8,900 adults in Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Jordan, Mexico and the U.S., and gauges their perceptions and motivations for getting involved, as well as the roles of nonprofit organizations, government and the media in social change across countries. The objective of the survey was to provide a barometer of who is engaged in social change, what is important to them and how they work together to advance social change issues of interest now and in the future.

“Our initial survey last year underscored the undeniable power of social change in action from individuals and organizations who worked together to improve the world around them,” said Walden University President Cynthia Baum. “The 2012 survey’s findings emphasize how factors such as the state of the economy can influence social change attitudes and behaviors, especially at a time when the need is so great. As social movements continue to ignite people’s passions and fuel communities around the world, it will be important to continue to assess the impact at the level of the individual.”

The survey breaks findings into three different sections: economy impact, nonprofits and individuals, and social media.

The survey found that many say their actions do not change in a bad economy – only 20% of adults, on average, say they’re more likely to donate money to a cause or an organization when economic conditions are bad. While donating money, goods or services is the top way adults have gotten involved in social change in the past six months (50%, on average), donating money is also where adults are most likely to cut back when economic conditions are bad (37%, on average). Instead, adults are more likely to increase their participation in volunteer work or service (29%, on average) and in using social networking sites (28%, on average) to engage in social change.

Nonprofits are driving the social change movement. In seven of the eight countries surveyed, nonprofits are among the top two ways adults are most likely to get involved in social change. Jordan is the exception, where getting involved as an individual or through a religious institution ranks higher. On average, 60% of adults are involved with a nonprofit through an organization, institution or company. In addition, adults most commonly believe that nonprofits “make it easy for people to get involved” (48%, on average) but also that “too much of their budgets goes to overhead costs while not enough goes to providing services or making change happen” (36%, on average).


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Like nonprofits, social media has pushed social change forward. China leads the way with the highest use of digital technology (72%) in the past six months, followed by India (58%), Brazil (58%), Mexico (57%) and Jordan (56%). More people say they are more likely to join a digital social change conversation during the next six months than start one. More than two-thirds of adults (69%, on average) say they will likely post or comment on a social network site, participate in an online chat, or sign a petition, while about half of adults (53%, on average) say they will text messages, upload videos, blog, or start an online petition about a cause or issue.

The report also found that the importance of social change remains high. More than eight in 10 adults in 2012 (84%, on average) say involvement in positive social change is important to them personally, and most adults (85%, on average) have engaged in social change in the past six months. However, reasons to get involved vary from country to country. For example, adults in the U.S. and Canada are most likely to say being involved is important because they want to help those less fortunate than themselves (64% each), while those from Brazil and India say social change is important because it makes them feel good (70% and 72%, respectively).

Walden offers more than 65 degree programs with more than 330 specializations and concentrations. Areas of study include health sciences, counseling, human services, management, psychology, education, public health, nursing, public administration and information technology.

Walden grants bachelor’s degrees, post- baccalaureate certificates, master’s degrees, post-master’s certificates and doctoral degrees. It offers MBAs in 13 specializations. The entire curriculum of the university is centered around empowering and educating adults to enact positive social change.

–Alanna Stage,@AlannaTweets