April 1, 2020

Census Colleagues:

Today is 2020 Census Day! The Census Bureau’s massive outreach operation is in full swing, self-responses are coming in (and being reported) daily, and despite the impact of COVID-19 on in-person outreach, organizations in every state are working hard to Get-Out-the-Count. For organizations and their census campaigns, the day serves as an opportunity for education, mobilization, celebration, and reflection.

Philanthropy has organized and invested in unprecedented ways to promote a fair and accurate census, with a focus on historically undercounted communities. We understand what’s at stake; accurate census data are vital to help us better understand the issues we care about and the communities we serve, establish priorities, and inform stronger evaluation, and measure progress. Without our collective effort, we put at risk the inaccurate distribution of political power and more than $1.5 trillion per year in federal resources, further marginalizing the communities and individuals we support for another decade. Now, the stakes are even more palpable given the disproportionate health and economic impacts of COVID-19 on historically undercounted communities.

FCCP’s Funders Census Initiative (FCI) has been working for more than three years with our Leadership Team, the Democracy Funders Collaborative Census Subgroup, and the United Philanthropy Forum to prepare for this essential work. We want to take this opportunity to thank the FCCP staff, particularly Jocelyn Bissonnette, for their leadership and dedication in helping to build this infrastructure. FCI has grown to more than 500 national, state, and community-based grantmakers and philanthropy serving organizations (it’s not too late to join!). The Census Subgroup has pooled more than $80 million. State and community-based funders in 46 states, plus DC and Puerto Rico are participating, convening, and investing.

This funder community stands with partners across the country as we work to Get-out-the-Count together. Here are a few census resources we find valuable at this point in the census cycle:

There remains so much work around census education, communications, digital training, rapid response grantmaking, and combating disinformation. There also is significant uncertainty ahead of us, including the extent to which fear, distrust, apathy, and how COVID-19 will impact final census accuracy for historically undercounted communities. Finally, there will be critical areas in need of support as we near the end of the count, including census data quality reinforcement, litigation, research and analysis, evaluation, and 2030 planning.

As we maintain the focus on Get-Out-the-Count efforts, this is also a critical time to understand what capacity our partners and grantees may need beyond census outreach. We and our nonprofit partners have the power to make permanent the civic engagement infrastructure these unprecedented investments in the census have helped to build. If we act with urgency to understand the needs on the ground and support organizations that can make a difference, the legacy of the 2020 Census can be a more equitable and just democracy. Thank you for your commitment and persistence. We look forward to our ongoing partnership.

Marcia Avner, Bauman Foundation
FCI Co-Chair
Sol Marie Alfonso Jones, Long Island Community Foundation

FCI Co-Chair