Community engagement is the extent to which individuals take responsibility for addressing civic issues and improving the life of their community.
In this section, we highlight trends in 3 indicators: 1) charitable giving; 2) voter registration rates; and 3) voter turnout rates.
In all cases, comparisons to state statistics reflect the state excluding New York City.
Compared to the state and the nation, Orange County has had lower charitable giving rates. Both voter registration and voter participation rates are also lower than the state.
Average amounts of charitable giving decreased between 2002 and 2013, similar to state and national trends.
Orange County’s average contribution was down 20% from $1,409 in 2002, compared to similar decreases in giving at the state (16%) and national levels (11%). The average contribution in Orange was $1,121 in 2013, slightly below neighboring Dutchess ($1,152) yet above Ulster ($769). Orange County’s rates remained below the state and nation at $1,313 and $1,267, respectively.
Voter registration rates have fluctuated over the decade.
Voter registration rates in Orange County have consistently been lower than state rates throughout the last 15 years. While 80% of voting-age residents were registered in 2014, this fell below the 82% for the state. Following state and regional trends, voter registration in Orange increased for the 2008 presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain, with 83% of Orange County residents registering to vote. Orange’s voter registration rate was above Ulster and Dutchess (both 79%).
Registered voter turnout rates were on par with the statewide rate and below the region.
In 2014, Orange County’s voter participation rate was 33% and has consistently been the lowest rate in the region since 2000. Similar to state trends, voter participation in Orange was higher during presidential elections than in gubernatorial elections. In the 2012 presidential election, 51% of Orange County’s registered voters voted compared to 37% in the 2010 gubernatorial year and 57% in the 2008 presidential election.