The Importance of the Census

Accurate census data are essential for the fair distribution of political representation at the national, state and local levels, and for the prudent, equitable allocation of government resources. More than $600 billion annually in federal assistance to states, localities, and families is distributed based on census data. Yet historically, the census has missed disproportionate numbers of racial minorities, immigrants, young children and the poor, leading to inequality in political power and in access to public funding and private investment for these communities.

The 2020 Census is facing unprecedented challenges — a leadership void at the Census Bureau; insufficient funding, resulting in canceled tests and scaled back preparations; cybersecurity threats (real and perceived) and the digital divide, as the first high-tech census rolls out; and community reluctance and fear of sharing information with the government.

Although philanthropy cannot and should not supplant the government’s responsibility to ensure a fair and accurate census, funder engagement in support of the census is more important than ever.

Funders Census Initiative 2020

Participate. Convene. Invest.

FCI 2020 supports grantmakers by:

  • Providing forums for funders to learn, strategize and plan together including webinars, briefings, convening sessions and in-person meetings
  • Developing and distributing census timelines, updates, fact sheets, analyses, and resources to inform your work
  • Monitoring Census Bureau progress and tracking legislative issues which could impact a fair and accurate count

In 2010, FCI helped mobilize millions in philanthropic support nationwide for the census. Increased grantmaking support and earlier investment is critical in the lead-up to the 2020 Census, as the road is filled with both challenges and opportunities that will influence vital decisions and determine the inclusiveness of the count.

The Funders Census Initiative 2020 is committed to stimulating interest in the census among funders and their grantees through outreach, education, resource development, and technical assistance. FCI provides a framework and serves as a clearinghouse for philanthropic support of the census, this decade and beyond. By supporting grantmaker engagement on the census, FCI works to achieve a democracy where everybody counts because everyone is counted.

Join the FCI Working Group!

Sign up for the FCI Working Group here. FCCP membership is not required to join the working group.

As part of the FCI Working Group, you’ll get access to a password protected funder-only section and a FCI Listserv to connect with more than 100 national, state, and local funders, in addition to the census resources and programming available on this webpage.

Have questions? Contact Jocelyn Bissonnette, FCI Director at

2020 Census Funder Toolkit

This toolkit provides helpful information, resources, and guidance for grant makers who want to help ensure a fair and accurate census and explains why an accurate count is particularly critical for the communities you serve.

As a grant maker, you have a unique opportunity to ensure that the census reflects an accurate picture of our nation and that historically undercounted populations are included in the census.

Please complete this short form to access the toolkit. The link is shared on the confirmation page for completing the form.

See additional Census updates and resources below.


Leadership Team

  • Sol Marie Alfonso Jones, Long Island Community Foundation
  • Khalif Ali, The Pittsburgh Foundation
  • Elina Alterman, Kansas Health Foundation
  • Christian Arana, Latino Community Foundation
  • Cindy Canary, CKCanary Consulting
  • Elena Conley, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
  • Xiomara Corpeno, Groundswell Fund
  • Meredith Higashi, Philanthropy Northwest
  • Ed Kissam, WKF Giving Fund
  • Dawn Melchiorre, Forefront
  • Virginia Mosqueda, The James Irvine Foundation
  • Scott Nielsen, Arabella Advisors
  • Huong Nguyen-Yap, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
  • Allan Oliver, Thornburg Foundation
  • Maggie Osborn, United Philanthropy Forum
  • Stephania Ramirez, California Community Foundation
  • Christine Reeves Strigaro, Sapelo Foundation
  • Melina Sanchez, The James Irvine Foundation
  • Bob Tracy, MN Council on Foundations
  • Jonathan Tran, The California Endowment
  • Tara Westman, The California Endowment
  • McKenzie Young, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation