Improving Quality of Life

Quality of life can be improved when citizens participate in the life of the community, engaging in both political and non-political activities, in order to improve conditions for others and to help shape the community's future.

We all benefit when everyone participates in society—by volunteering and raising funds for charitable causes; by running for office and voting; or by actively engaging in public policy discussions.

What's happening

  • North Dakota has consistently had a higher voter turnout among the voting-age population than the nation until 2022 when the voter turnout was about the same (42.9 in North Dakota and 42.8% in the US). Billings County in North Dakota had the highest average turnout rate in 2022 at 80.1 percent, while Sioux County had the lowest at 21.5 percent. The 2022 voting-age turnout in North Dakota was lower than the previous mid-term election in 2018 (57.0%).
  • The percent of North Dakota residents who volunteered was consistently higher in North Dakota than the U.S. (29.2% and 24.8, respectively, in 2021).

Making connections

A strong economy and business climate provide resources for community involvement and foster employee participation in their communities. Furthermore, volunteering can develop skills and confidence that make individuals employable and strengthen the networks that help them to find jobs.  

Civic engagement helps youth and young adults build social capital and skills that can help them find meaningful education and career pathways. Increased education in turn, produces resources that raise an individual’s access and potential contribution to volunteering and fosters organizational and communication skills necessary for successful civic engagement and leadership.

Research also found a significant relationship between volunteering and health; when individuals volunteer, they not only help their community but also experience better health in later years, whether in terms of increased longevity, higher functional ability, or lower rates of depression.


Rachelle Vettern: Engaging Volunteers across Generations.

“What motivates different generations to volunteer and are there generational differences that foster continued volunteerism?  Merriam Webster defines a generation as, “a group of people born and living during the same time”. Currently we have six generations living and volunteering in our communities”…research into these generations “has led to the development of educational curriculum related to generational diversity and the delivery of many programs across the state focusing on this topic and engaging generations in the workplace and community.”

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Megan Laudenschlager: Strengthen ND - Supporting and Accelerating Community Development in Rural North Dakota.

“Warwick has historically been a small town with the earliest population estimates dating back to the 1920s, when the community reached its peak population of 290 residents.  In 2010, the most recent U.S. Census, Warwick’s population dwindled to 65 residents.  At one time a bustling spot of activity, the community, too, has fallen prey to the grips of long-term outmigration… With the continuing population decline of the area, I often wonder what the community will look like 20 years from now… Strengthen ND was founded in August 2015 with a vision of working across North Dakota to elevate nonprofits and rural communities to support a high quality of life and resources for vulnerable populations.”

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North Dakota Compass

Center for Social Research
North Dakota State University

Compass created by:
Wilder Research

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