Knight Soul of the Community is a three-year study that explores what community qualities influence residents' loyalty and passion for where they live and how those feelings relate to indicators of community well-being such as local economic growth.
Funded by Knight Foundation and conducted by Gallup, the study aims to determine the factors driving community attachment so community leaders can ultimately affect this emotional pull and potentially increase local economic growth.
In a globalized world, where places are competing for the best talent, leaders need to understand what factors matter in attracting people to their community. The study provides this critical information.
Gallup interviewed a random, representative sample of 400 adults (age 18+) in most communities and 1,000 adults in Akron, Macon, Miami, Philadelphia, San Jose, St. Paul, Charlotte and Detroit; nearly 15,000 people were surveyed in total across the 26 communities from May. 27, through Aug. 31, 2010.
Fifteen-minute telephone interviews covering 73 questions were conducted in English and Spanish. Cell phone numbers were included as part of the potential sample.
Data were weighted to reflect the known adult population by age, gender, race and ethnicity based on U.S. Census data within each community.
Gallup used the U.S. Census definitions of the Knight community region. For the most part, the MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) was used. However, in a few cases the µSA (Micropolitan Statistical Area), MD (Metropolitan Division) or zip code definition of the community area was used.
Areas were chosen to provide a regional view of Knight communities.
Census definitions align with external performance data such as local GDP, population growth, health, welfare and educational data necessary for analysis. It also allows for merging with other administrative data for additional analyses.
Gallup is one of the most trusted names in polling.
Gallup is on the cutting edge of behavioral economics.
Gallup has developed and measured the idea behind emotional attachment in the workplace and communities – both nationally and internationally. The Soul of the Community project takes advantage of all that previous work to provide the most comprehensive measurement model to date.
Community attachment is the loyalty and passion people feel for where they live. It is an emotional connection that goes beyond residents’ satisfaction with the community. The Soul of the Community study seeks to understand what things about a community drive this loyalty and passion for place so we can potentially further connect residents to their community.
Attachment levels of the 26 communities were compared to local GDP growth (economic growth) over five years and show an important statistical relationship. That is, over five years, GDP growth was highest in communities with the greatest percentage of attached residents.
The Soul of the Community study identified 11 domains with varying levels of impact in driving
1. Social offerings: Entertainment infrastructure for people to meet each other and how much
residents care about each other.
2. Openness: How welcoming the community is to different types of people.
3. Aesthetics: An area's physical beauty and green spaces.
4. Education: Quality of K-12 schooling and local colleges and universities.
5. Basic services: Infrastructure supports, including highways, housing and health care.
6. Leadership: Rating of leadership and whether elected officials represent residents’ interests.
7. Economy: Local economic and employment conditions.
8. Emotional wellness: The mixture of mental and physical well-being.
9. Safety: Local crime and safety conditions.
10. Social capital: The personal connections residents have to each other.
11. Civic involvement: Voting, volunteering, attending meetings, and working for change.
Social offerings, openness, social offerings and aesthetics consistently proved to be the key
drivers of community attachment across the Knight communities in both all three years of the
Social offerings is the social infrastructure that allows residents to enjoy their community together.
It comprises vibrant nightlife, good places to meet people and residents caring for one another.
As social offerings is the #1 driver for attachment in all Knight communities in 2010, providing a strong entertainment infrastructure and fostering a sense of community caring should be prioritized.
Openness is the perception of how welcoming a community is to different types of people, including people with young children, senior citizens, college graduates and minorities, among other groups.
Openness apears among the top three drivers in all of the Knight communities in 2010.
A driver is any community characteristic found to matter to community attachment. It does not indicate whether or not the community is performing well in that area.
A strength is any community characteristic that is highly-rated by residents and matters to community attachment. Strengths should be leveraged by communities. A critical opportunity is any community characteristic that is low-performing, yet matters for community attachment.