The study found that at least three quarters of youth were somehow engaged in their community or in politics in both 2008 and 2010–but in very different ways. Six distinct patterns of engagement emerged in 2010:
- The Broadly Engaged (21% of youth) fill many different leadership roles.
- The Political Specialists (18%) are focused on voting and other forms of political activism.
- The Donors (11%) give money but do little else.
- The Under-Mobilized (14%) were registered to vote in 2010 but did not actually vote or participate actively.
- The Talkers (13%) report discussing political issues and are avid communicators online, but do not take action otherwise.
- The Civically Alienated (23%) hardly engage at all.
Although this data contradicts the bleak and homogenous picture often painted by the media, it is still clear that many young people are not fully engaged. Other research suggests that some of them could be persuaded to vote if they were directly asked to participate or if voting seemed more accessible–something nonprofits can address. Learn more about nonprofit voter engagement and how your organization can increase participation rates in your community.