Poverty, homelessness and employment are the three most significant social issues facing people living in Kalamazoo County, according to a recent Kalamazoo Community Foundation survey.

Four hundred Kalamazoo County residents were surveyed on community issues and philanthropy. This survey mirrors one conducted in 2012.

"As a data-driven organization, we feel it's important for our planning and decision-making to be informed by community input," says President/CEO Carrie Pickett-Erway. "We also see great value in sharing this information with the community. As an organization committed to learning and continuous improvement, we use this information to increase our effectiveness in working with our partners, both donors and nonprofits, to better serve our customer, which is the community."

Social issue highlights

  • The top three social issues are poverty (24.6 percent), homelessness (20.8 percent), and employment (16.1 percent), with race relations following at 15.8 percent. The same top issues were mentioned in the 2012 survey, although in a different order (employment topped the list at 26.1 percent, followed by poverty at 24 percent and homelessness at 18.9 percent).
  • The three top things people like about living in Kalamazoo County: county has a lot to offer (21.8 percent), schools (21.8 percent), and convenience (16 percent). In 2012, schools also topped the list at 20.8 percent, with convenience following at 16.5 percent and the county having a lot to offer at 10.3 percent.

Philanthropy highlights

  • More than three-fourths of respondents (76.8 percent) indicated they had donated to a charitable organization in the past year, with the top recipients being human services (44.4 percent), religious organizations (40.8 percent) and health organizations (31.8 percent). The 2012 survey reported 77.5 percent having donated with the same top three, but in a different order, with religious organizations at 47.1 percent, followed by human services at 41 percent and health organizations at 23.2 percent.
  • More than one-third (40.3 percent) gave up to $499 to charitable organizations in the past year, while 14.3 percent gave more than $2,000. One out of every five respondents did not give to charitable or nonprofit organizations in the past year.
  • Nearly two-thirds do not have a will, trust or estate plan. Of those who do, 74.1 percent report that their plans do not include charitable organizations.

The 29 question survey was conducted in March, 2015, by Perspectives Consulting Group of Paw Paw. Click here for a PDF of the complete survey results.

The random-digit dialing of telephone numbers, including cell phones, was limited to zip codes within Kalamazoo County. A total of 76.8 percent of respondents indicated they were Caucasian/white, 12.8 percent African American/black, 4 percent Multiracial/Multicultural, 2.5 percent Hispanic, 0.8 percent Asian, 0 percent American Indian/Native American, 0.8 percent other, and 2.5 percent declined to indicate.