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2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey

The 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey was sponsored by three-dozen community foundations and others and was designed by the Saguaro Seminar at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. The survey is the largest ever on the civic engagement of Americans.

“At a time when President Bush began his presidency by asking us to be ‘citizens, not spectators’ and to serve our nation ‘beginning with your neighbor,’ the Survey shows that we have opportunities to work towards those goals …”
–Robert Putnam

The Survey comprises both a national sample of some 3,000 respondents and community respondents in 42 communities nationwide (across 29 states) covering an additional 26,700 respondents. The survey measures everything from hanging out with friends, to giving blood, to participating in various groups and associations, to levels of trust, to participation in group arts and group sports, to the diversity of our friendship patterns. The release of the dataset for the survey will enable researchers around the country to undertake their own research on these topics.

In a historic partnership, the community foundations (in concert with a few private funders) releasing the survey are embarking on efforts to rebuild levels of connectedness in their communities, as community catalysts and funders. Community foundations are private philanthropic organizations governed by a cross-section of their community’s leadership. Within their specified geographical areas, they raise and manage permanent local endowment funds, distribute grants, and mobilize leadership and organizational resources to address community needs and opportunities.

The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey was designed by the Saguaro Seminar and drew upon the lessons learned from a Social Capital Measurement Workshop held at Harvard University in October 1999. The Saguaro Seminar was guided in survey development by a 9-person Scientific Advisory Committee, composed of leading scholars on measuring social capital and on cross-racial social trends.

The Survey builds upon two comprehensive efforts: the work of Professor Robert Putnam, Harvard University (author of Bowling Alone: Collapse and Revival of the American Community) and strategies for civic revitalization outlined in “Better Together”, a recent Saguaro Seminar report. The work of Professor Putnam “details how markedly civic ties have weakened over the last generation and the price that Americans pay for these frayed ties in the quality of education, physical health and happiness, community safety, the responsiveness of democratic institutions of government, and economic development.” Better Together is an accumulation of three years of dialogue among a diverse group of thinkers and doers. It “details promising strategies for increasing our social capital through faith-based efforts, schools and youth, the workplace, politics, and the arts.” 

Basic Survey Methodology

The survey, averaging 26 minutes, was conducted by telephone using random-digit-dialing during July – November 2000. Interviewing in the national survey and in most of the community surveys was concluded in October. TNS Intersearch, an international survey firm, was commissioned to conduct the interviewing and prepare the data for analysis. Roughly 29,700 people were surveyed. The national sample (N = 3,003) of the continental U.S. contains an over-sample of black and Hispanic respondents; 501 non-Hispanic blacks and 502 Hispanics were surveyed.

Table 1
Communities Surveyed, Geography of Area, and Sample Size

Sponsor Area Sample Size Goal Sample Size Actual
Arizona Community Foundation (C.F.) Maricopa County 500 501
C.F. for Greater Atlanta Counties: DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, Rockdale, Henry 500 510
Forum 35/Baton Rouge Area Foundation East Baton Rouge Parish 500 500
C.F. of Greater Birmingham (AL) Counties: Jefferson, Shelby 500 500
Boston Foundation City of Boston (includes oversample of 200 in 4 zip codes) 600 604
C.F. Serving Boulder County Boulder Co. 500 500
Foundation for the Carolinas Counties: N.C.: Catawba, Iredell, Rowan, Cleveland, Lincoln, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Stanly, Union, Anson; S.C.: York, Chester, Lancaster 1500 1500
Central New York C.F. Onondaga Co (includes City of Syracuse) 500 541
Chicago Community Trust Counties: Lake, McHenry, Cook, DuPage, Kane and Will. 750 750
Greater Cincinnati Foundation Counties: OH: Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, Warren; KY: Boone, Campbell, Kenton; IN: Dearborn 1000 1001
Cleveland Foundation Cuyahoga Co.(includes oversample of 100 Latinos) 1100 1100
Delaware Division of State Service Centers/Delaware C.F. Kent County, Sussex County, city of Wilmington, non-Wilmington New Castle County 1368 1379
Denver Foundation/Rose C.F./Piton Foundation City and County of Denver 500 501
Anonymous funder Portions of the “Oakland Corridor” (in W. Oakland, CA) covered by the following exchanges in Area Code 510:  208, 238, 268, 452, 465, 632, 652, 655, 663, 673, 763, 832, 834, 835, 839 500 500
East Tennessee Foundation Counties: Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hawkins, Hancock, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, McMinn, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, Union, Unicoi, and Washington. 500 500
Fremont Area C.F. (MI) Newaygo County (with screening) 750 753
Grand Rapids C.F. City of Grand Rapids 500 502
C.F. of Greater Greensboro Guilford County, (includes oversample of 250 in Greensboro) 750 750
Greater Houston C.F. Harris county 500 500
Indiana Grantmakers Alliance State of Indiana 1000 1001
Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation Counties: Kanawha, Putnam, Boone 500 500
Kalamazoo C.F. Kalamazoo County 500 500
California C.F. Los Angeles County 500 515
Maine C.F. Cities/Towns: Lewiston, Auburn, Greene, Sabattus, Lisbon, Mechanic Falls, Poland, Turner, Wales, Minot 500 523
Montana C.F. State of Montana 500 502
New Hampshire Charitable Foundation State of NH. (includes oversample of 160 in Cheshire County and 40 in I-93 corridor”*) 700 711
Peninsula C.F./C.F. Silicon Valley Counties: San Mateo, Santa Clara Part of Alameda County: Fremont, Newark, Union City 1500 1505
Rochester Area C.F. Counties: Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, Livingston, Genesee, Orleans (includes oversample to achieve minimum of 100 Hispanics and 100 African Americans) 900 988
The St. Paul Foundation Counties: Dakota, Ramsey, Washington 500 503
The San Diego Foundation San Diego County 500 504
Walter & Elise Haas Fund City & County of San Francisco 500 500
C.F. for Southeastern Michigan Counties: Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, St.Clair, Wasthenaw, Monroe, Livingston 500 501
Winston-Salem Foundation Forsyth County 750 750
York Foundation (PA) York County 500 500
Northwest Area Foundation      
Minneapolis City of Minneapolis 500 501
North Minneapolis ZIP 55411 & ZIP 55405 north of I-394 (with screening) 450 452
S. Dakota (rural) rural South Dakota 375 368
central Oregon central Oregon 500 500
Seattle City of Seattle 500 502
Yakima Yakima County 500 500
Bismarck City of Bismarck 500 506

* Defined as: in Hillsborough County: Nashua, Hudson, Pelham, Litchfield, Merrimack, Bedford, Goffstown, Manchester, Hollis, Amherst; in Rockingham County: Salem, Windham, Derry, Londonderry

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Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, 2000

Restricted Dataset

If you require the 13 geographically sensitive fields (like zip code, 1990 and 2000 census tract and census block, etc.), you must download and complete a Confidentiality Agreement (PDF 58KB) attesting to your need for these fields and the manner in which you will safeguard the data. Once the completed agreement has been received by the Roper Center, it will take 2-3 days to be processed.

The restricted fields are free to members. Non-members will be charged the going rate for non-member datasets.

Please see Dataset Fees for specific information.

If you have questions, please contact Data Services.

Restricted Use Variables

fips FIPS Code
tract Census Tract (see below)
block Census Block (see below)
place Census Place (see below)
mcd Minor Civil Division
msa Metropolitan Statistical Area
zip code Zip Code
city_str City Name
state State FIPS code

Geographic Terminology

Source: Marketing Systems Group (MSG)

Blocks – The smallest level of geography used by the Census Bureau to report and collect Census Data is a Block. A Block is an area about the size of a city Block. For the 1990 Census there were approximately 8 million Blocks. Due to confidentiality problems associated with reporting data at this level, and the large file size created by Block level statistics, some Census information is not available for Blocks. Blocks are identified with three digit numbers in a range from 100 to 999.

Census Tracts – A Census Tract is an area used by the U.S. Bureau of the Census to collect and tabulate Census data. A Tract generally contains between 2500 and 8000 persons. Census Tracts do not cross County boundaries, but can cross City, Township, and Town boundaries. Census Tract boundaries usually remain permanent for about 10 years and change only at the onset of the decennial Census. Boundary changes that occurred between the 1980 and 1990 Censuses include tracts being split into two or more tracts, some tracts were combined or aggregated, and new tracts were created. There are approximately 50,000 Census Tracts in the U.S.

Census Tract numbering consists of a 4 digit number with a 2 digit suffix, such as 1016.01 and have a range from 0001.00 to 9499.99. A suffix of .99 indicates a tract containing the population aboard one or more civilian or military ships, but contain no households. Suffixes between .80 and .98 identify 1990 Census Tracts that were revised or created between the time the 1990 Census was collected (Pre-Census) and when it was tabulated (Post-Census). A tract with a suffix of .80 through .98 have very few, if any, households or population. Additionally, .80 through .98 suffixes did not exist during the data collection phase of the 1990 Census and may be missing from databases using Pre-Census geographic information. Census Tracts exist only in Counties in Metropolitan Areas and in other densely populated Counties.

FIPS State/County Code – Every County in the U.S. has a unique FIPS Code, assigned by the Federal Government. The FIPS Code is always 5 digits long, where the first 2 digits signify the State and the last 3 digits in the FIPS code signifies the County.

Minor Civil Division – Minor Civil Divisions (MCD’s) exist only in 28 states of the U.S. MCD’s have legal boundaries and are known under various terms including Towns, Townships, Boroughs, Cities, etc. Census Tract boundaries generally correspond to MCD boundaries, but Census Tract boundaries may cross and can include more than one MCD.

In states without MCD’s the Census Bureau has created Census County Divisions (CCD). A CCD is an area created using combinations of Census Tracts, has no legal boundaries, and functions primarily for the collection and tabulation of Census statistics. There are 30,000 MCD’s and 5,000 CCD’s in the U.S.

Place – A Place is defined as an incorporated place with an active government and with definite geographic boundaries such as a City, Town, Village, etc. Places may be subdivisions of MCD’s, or in some situations they are the same as MCD’s. In addition, the Census Bureau recognizes unincorporated places that have no definite boundaries or government. These are known as Census Designated Places (CDP). There may be a relationship between Place boundaries and Census Tract boundaries, but Tract and Place boundaries do not necessarily correspond. There are 23,000 Places in the U.S.


The participating sponsors and communities of The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey are: Arizona Community Foundation (Phoenix); Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta; Forum 35/Baton Rouge Area Foundation; Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham; Boston Foundation; Community Foundation Serving Boulder County; California Community Foundation (Los Angeles); Foundation for the Carolinas (NC, SC) (Charlotte); Central New York Community Foundation (Syracuse / Onondaga Co.); Chicago Community Trust; Greater Cincinnati Foundation; Cleveland Foundation; Delaware Division of State Service Centers/Delaware Community Foundation; Denver Foundation/Rose Community Foundation/Piton Foundation; East Tennessee Foundation; Fremont Area Community Foundation (MI); Grand Rapids Community Foundation; Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro; Greater Houston Community Foundation; Indiana Grantmakers Alliance; Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (WV); Kalamazoo Community Foundation; Maine Community Foundation (Lewiston-Auburn); Montana Community Foundation; New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; Peninsula Community Foundation /Community Foundation Silicon Valley; Rochester Area Community Foundation (NY); The Saint Paul Foundation; The San Diego Foundation; Walter & Elise Haas Fund (San Francisco); Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan (Detroit); The Winston-Salem Foundation; York Foundation (PA); and Northwest Area Foundation (Bismarck, central Oregon, Minneapolis, North Minneapolis, rural South Dakota, Seattle, and Yakima)