Do economic crises mobilize or depress civic engagement? This paper examines this question by analysing cross-national trends in voluntary association membership in the context of the global financial crisis. A mobilization hypothesis suggests that an economic crisis would increase membership in voluntary associations, as these associations provide citizens a channel for interest articulation and aggregation facilitating their response to the crisis. A retreat hypothesis, on the other hand, suggests that an economic crisis would depress voluntary association membership, as people have fewer resources to be involved in these associations at a time of crisis. To test these hypotheses, this paper examines data on voluntary association memberships from the World Values Survey in 14 democratic countries, fielded before and after the global financial crisis hit in 2008. The results support the retreat hypothesis. Following the crisis, there was a decline in voluntary association memberships overall and countries harder hit by the crisis were more likely to experience declines. There was no evidence of mobilization among those more vulnerable to the crisis. Rather, the profile of those engaged in voluntary associations was similar before and after the crisis, skewed towards those better off in society, including those with higher education levels, higher incomes, and in paid employment.