On June 8, the Commerce Department (which oversees the Census Bureau) invited the public to comment on the paperwork associated with the 2020 census.  The public has 60 days – until August 7 – to submit comments.

This is one of the few opportunities for philanthropy to make its case that the citizenship question should be removed from the census questionnaire. Regardless of whether public comments will move the Trump administration to reverse its decision, this establishes an important record for the public, Congress and the courts to consider.

Please note – Submitting comments is NOT considered lobbying. This means that private foundations can weigh in on this question, and that public charities, including community foundations, can do so without tracking and reporting it as lobbying on their 990s. For more information, please see this legal memo on advocacy and the census here and this Bolder Advocacy blog “Nonprofits and Foundations Can Advocate to Remove the Citizenship Question from Census 2020” here.

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?

Upcoming briefing:

Join us for a briefing on Philanthropy’s Response to the Addition of a Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census on Thursday, July 12 at 3pmET. You can find out more information and register here. All FCCP briefings are intended as funder-only conversations and we want to respect the needs of our members by providing them this space. Please only register if you work at a foundation, a Philanthropy Serving Organization, or independently advise funders.

Sign-on letter for grantmakers:

We hope you will consider signing on and encourage other funders to do so.  To sign-on, we’ll need the following as you want it to appear on the letter that becomes part of the public record: signer’s name, title, organization name, city, state.  To sign on, add your information at: https://goo.gl/forms/VU9VkrVnWBMYwJcz2. We will collect signatures until July 16.

This letter will exclude philanthropy serving organizations and affinity groups from signing on, although they are playing a leadership role in executing this plan.

Template comments for grantmakers:

Even if you signed the comment letter described above, it is vitally important to send your own letter. Such letters have an impact. You can access a sample letter here that you can use to request that the citizenship question be removed from the 2020 Census.  We thank the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (GCPI) for drafting the sample letter.

The sample letter outlines concerns around the citizenship question and allows each organization to discuss how census data is important to them specifically and how an undercount would affect the communities that they serve. Everything in the sample letter is optional for your organization to customize and include in your final comment. We encourage you to individualize the letter as much as possible. To help, the letter includes links to key sources.

Sign-on letter for Philanthropy Serving Organizations:

The United Philanthropy Forum has created a sign-on letter specifically for Philanthropy Serving Organizations. You can find out more information here.