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Americans' Views on Change and Collaboration

November 13, 2023
  • Achieving lasting change through collaboration
  • Achieving lasting change through collaboration
  • What are the obstacles to change?
  • Where can we overcome differences and work together?
  • Who do Americans trust to lead on change?
  • How can we build trust and bridge generational divides?
    New research into attitudes on collaboration finds people think positive change is possible through compromise. And they believe philanthropy can play a unifying role.

    In partnership with Echelon Insights and Benenson Strategy Group, the Walton Family Foundation asked Americans to share their views on collaboration and how philanthropic organizations could bring people together to solve problems. The good news? An overwhelming majority believe compromise and finding common ground is important for collaboration. The survey found that Americans think collaboration starts with listening to others and making room for compromise - and they’re willing to do it in their own lives.

    Compromise and Collaboration graphic 1

    What are the obstacles to change?

    Americans think our divided politics is the biggest barrier to successful collaboration. More than 8 in 10 worry about how divided society is becoming. They believe that for change to happen, it’s important for people to be open to working together with those they don’t agree with.

    Compromise and Collaboration Graphic 2

    There are a few issues where Americans think collaboration for change is especially possible.

    A majority of Americans from both political parties believe there are strong opportunities for collaboration on many important issues, including creating more economic opportunity, building a better education system and doing more to protect the environment.

    Compromise and Collaboration Graphic 3

    New research shows people think philanthropy is well positioned to bring people together to make change.

    Americans believe collaboration will be driven by people and organizations outside of government. While most think that social media, traditional media and elected officials tend to divide us, a majority think foundations and philanthropies provide a way for people to connect and work together. Seven in 10 Americans recognize philanthropy as a convener and say it can bring together leaders from across sectors to solve problems.

    Compromise and Collaboration 4

    Change won't happen unless people from different generations find ways to overcome division.

    Bringing people of all ages together is essential for breaking down negative stereotypes that make collaboration hard. There is a shared belief across generations that philanthropy can help achieve this goal by facilitating connections and encouraging open and respectful communication, so people can exchange ideas and better understand each other.

    Compromise and Collaboration graphic 5

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