The time to support a fair and accurate census is now. Learn why philanthropy and nonprofit service providers need to help and how to get involved.
Our Vision is to achieve vibrant communities with great opportunity for all. There is perhaps no better example of a national effort that can help make this vision a reality than achieving an accurate and thorough 2020 census. That is why CMF is serving as a leader in mobilizing philanthropy in support of the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and Michigan’s community-based nonprofit service providers in support of a thorough and fair census. Building upon our long tradition of working together with MNA, we are breaking new ground in the charitable sector through development of this statewide infrastructure framework of collective impact.
We are proud to join in representing Michigan in panels, webinars and conversations across the country as others look to us for guidance regarding achieving similar efforts in their states. Our deep capacity for building understanding, convening thought partners and advocating for the nonprofit community has been a model for states coast to coast who share our concerns about the success of the 2020 census and recognize its vital importance.
The decennial census influences nearly every issue supported by Michigan philanthropy, including education, employment, veteran services, rural development and health care. Without a fair and accurate census, our communities are at risk of losing critical federal revenue for programs and services in each of these areas, and others. When census information is not accurate, it muffles the voices of undercounted groups and regions and undermines the basic political equality central to our democracy.
An inaccurate 2020 census can lead to more than a decade of underrepresentation and underinvestment in communities that have been historically undercounted. Your active engagement is needed now, more than ever. We invite you to join us on this critical journey.
- Actions and Tips for Funders
- Resources on Supporting the Census: From the Funder's Perspective
- Michigan Nonprofits Complete Count Campaign framework
- CMF's Presentation for the Kansas Association of Community Foundations Annual National Conference
- Research: Creative Strategy, Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators
Video provided courtesy of the Ford Foundation
Why Philanthropy and Nonprofit Service Providers Need to Help
Historically, the census has been primarily government-led with some support from national foundations and a limited nonprofit campaign, but the National Democracy Funders Collaborative census subgroup and The Leadership Conference have identified a series of significant challenges that show far more support will be needed for a successful census.
Though the U.S. Census Bureau determined after the 2010 census that it would move to an internet-first census collection process to increase efficiency, lack of sufficient funding from 2012 to now has resulted in commitment to a system that hasn’t been appropriately resourced or tested. At the same time, key components of the 2010 census process were reduced, including a 50 percent reduction in the number of regional and local census hubs and partner specialists, as well as scaled back door-to-door outreach by official census enumerators. Gaps in broadband access, removal of a regional census hub from Michigan and lack of local census offices designated in west or north Michigan are just some of the factors adding to these challenges, placing Michigan at high risk of an undercount.
These are just some of the reasons we are stepping up efforts to supplement government implementation to ensure everyone is counted.
An Accurate Count Matters
Demographic and socioeconomic data from the census is intended to drive informed, inclusive and effective decision making, assisting state and local leaders, business, nonprofits and foundations in defining how to prioritize services, resources and investments. The census also directly affects the prudent and equitable allocation of more than $600 billion in federal funds. In Michigan, approximately 40% of the state’s budgeted revenue comes from federal funds, an allocation that totaled over $17 billion in 2014. Those funds are used to support vital programs and services such as Head Start, SNAP, special education, free and reduced lunch programs, WIC, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Using current funding figures, Michigan would lose $1,800 of federal funds per year, for ten years, for every person not counted.
Accurate census data is also essential for the fair distribution of political representation at the national, state and local levels. Census data is used to reapportion the 435 U.S. House of Representatives seats among the states and to draw legislative districts within the state. Based on the 2020 census, Michigan may lose a congressional seat, resulting in a decrease in the number of seats held by Michigan in the Electoral College.
An Equitable Count Matters
The census is a critical mechanism for ensuring that no community’s needs or voices are overlooked. Unfortunately, those with the most to lose from an undercount are the hardest to count, including communities of color, immigrants, the homeless and those traditionally served by nonprofits. The risk of an undercount is not limited to urban communities. Many of the hardest to count individuals live in rural areas where there has been a significant shift in demographics that may be misrepresented in the 2020 census count. Young children are another group at risk. In Michigan, 10.8% of the population under the age of five years old lives in a hard-to-count community. A statistical model developed by the Census Bureau has already identified census tracts that are highly likely not to respond to the 2020 census by state.
Philanthropy’s Role Matters
Without government funding, communities would turn to philanthropy and nonprofits to fill the void, but philanthropy does not have the resources to replace lost government support. And, ensuring hard-to-count communities’ participation in the census requires additional resources and expertise. Recognizing these challenges, we are part of national and statewide efforts to engage philanthropy in supporting a complete and accurate in the 2020 census.
You Can Help – Get Involved
Invest in the Census 2020 Michigan Nonprofits Complete Count Campaign.
The 2020 Michigan Nonprofits Count Campaign is mobilizing nonprofits across the state to achieve a fair and accurate count and build the capacity of nonprofits to address future issues that threaten the health and well-being of our communities. This effort, led by the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) will provide trainings and materials for nonprofits on effective outreach tactics, award mini-grants, facilitate a statewide communications plan and coordinate with state and local government officials.
Efforts are underway to conduct outreach to member foundations and secure funding for the plan. The three-year campaign budget is roughly $4.7 million. Although national and statewide funders are expected to support this important initiative, the investment from community foundations will support a more robust effort in Michigan communities. Grant funding will support state and local research, communications and local capacity-building education for nonprofits. Mini-grants will be awarded to local community-based organizations to support their work.
Serve as a census hub.
The 2020 Michigan Nonprofits Count Campaign is partnering with select regional organizations In targeted geographic areas to develop unique plans for communities to support fieldwork of nonprofits in their service area. MNA will provide designated census hubs with funding to support the administrative and staffing expenses associated with this work. Designated census hubs will need to commit to the following, with support from the state campaign:
-Educate nonprofits in the region about what’s at stake for the 2020 census and possible roles for nonprofits to help ensure a complete count.
-Involve representatives of hard-to-count populations in developing and implementing a plan for awarding, managing and tracking mini-grants to local nonprofits.
-Partner with local complete count committees to coordinate efforts, avoiding duplication of efforts.
-Serve as a campaign key messenger with local media and state/federal policymakers in support of funding and outreach for the census.
Champion this work locally.
Foundations unable to invest in the campaign and/or serve as a census hub are encouraged to be a communication partner, using networks and outlets to spread the word about what’s at stake for the local community and how nonprofits can participate in this important campaign.
CMF is one of five regional associations to receive a grant from the Joyce Foundation to educate philanthropy about the census, increase funding support for the census and mobilize funders to advocate for policy improvements for the census. Census policy needs have been raised to CMF members since 2016, particularly with affinity groups and the CMF Public Policy Committee. At the 2017 Annual Conference, we worked with Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement and Nonprofit VOTE to do a session on civic engagement that included the 2020 census. In March 2018, the CMF Board passed a resolution supporting efforts at federal, state and local levels to ensure an accurate, reliable and thorough Census count, as recommended by the committee, “...with such efforts including: increase federal funding as requested to support census activities ongoing; appointment of a qualified, permanent Census Bureau Director; no changes to the American Community Survey, such as addition of an untested citizenship question; and needed steps to secure Census data.”
Results of the 2020 census will influence individuals, communities, governments, for-profit entities and nonprofit organizations throughout the next decade. The data will inform decision makers in all sectors and lead to allocation of political power and financial resources. If we truly want vibrant communities with great opportunities for all, the time is now for a complete, thorough and accurate census count.