CENSUS 2020: Why an Accurate Count Matters to Philanthropy

Wisconsin Philanthropy Network was proud to play a role in promoting an accurate count in Census 2020. Though the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges, the 2020 Census count was completed as required by law every ten years. The Census plays an important role in determining federal resources for Wisconsin as well as informing political representation.

Read Andy Davey's thoughts here.

Making the Case for Philanthropy

It is difficult to overstate the importance of a fair census count. When census information is not accurate, it threatens to muffle the voices of undercounted groups and regions, and undermine the basic political equality that is central to our democracy. Institutions across the country, including local and state governments, businesses, nonprofits and foundations, routinely rely on data from the census to allocate funding, define where services are delivered and promote economic development.

The Census Bureau is facing a daunting set of challenges as it prepares for the 2020 census. Since the bureau is facing budget constraints like never before, it’s planning to collect the majority of census information online, scale back door to door outreach and roll back canvassing. The changes increase the potential of undercounting young children, minorities, low-income individuals and other marginalized individuals. Given the current climate, regional philanthropy associations and their members are needed to advocate and educate elected officials and community leaders on the importance and impact of the 2020 census on their communities. Even without the changes being proposed for the 2020 census we know there were gross undercounts of vulnerable populations in the 2010 census. This is why the 2020 census matters to philanthropy.

United Philanthropy Forum's Census Project

The Joyce Foundation has provided funding for a two-year project to engage regional funders in ensuring a more thorough and accurate census count in 2020. The Forum’s Census 2020 project has three main objectives:

  1. to educate philanthropy serving organizations on the importance of the 2020 census and the role for their grantmaking members
  2. to mobilize regional funders to advocate for policy improvements for the 2020 census
  3. to Increase Funding Support for the 2020 census among regional funders.

In 2018, Wisconsin Philanthropy Network has begun to participate in this project. The Forum will focus on providing tools, information and other resources on this site, as they are developed, that will enable regional funders to advocate with local and state governments to provide adequate funding for census outreach and education.

United Philanthropy Forum's Perspective

A Critical Moment for the 2020 Census and Why Philanthropy Should Care - David Biemesderfer, President & CEO, United Philanthropy Forum

Resources on the Census

Fact Sheets and Tools

Counting for Dollars 2020 - Wisconsin Data from The George Washington University

2020 Census Faces Challenges in Rural America - New report by Dr. William (Bill) O’Hare about special challenges that will make some rural areas and populations difficult to count accurately.

How You Can Help the 2020 Census in Your State - Checklist for legislators on how they can help ensure a fair and accurate census in their state. Developed on behalf of National Conference of State Legislatures by Jeffrey M. Wise, Special Counsel, New York State Assembly.

Registered 2020 LUCA Participants
With the LUCA deadline fast approaching (Dec.15), the following map provides a listing of municipalities that have agreed to participate in LUCA. Please note that you have to zoom into the map to make the cities/towns appear. All of the cities/towns listed have agreed to participate. Find out more about LUCA.

Census Bureau Planned Area Census Offices
As funders continue to discuss "Get Out the Count" activities for the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau's list of locations for the 248 planned Area Census Offices (i.e. "local" offices) should be helpful. The sites were announced in a 2020 Census Memorandum earlier this month.

Engaging Your Foundation in the 2020 Census
Guidance on how your foundation can play a role in engaging the business sector to help achieve a successful 2020 Census.

Census Private Sector Fact Sheet
Background on the critical nature of the Cenus as a part of the private sector.

The Leadership Conference has released answers to common questions regarding the local updating of census addresses (LUCA).

Key Census Milestones
Funders Census Initiative 2020 has updated this document on key dates regaarding planning and implementation of the 2020 census.

Census Hard To Count Mapping Tool
You can view hard to count communities by congressional and state legislative districts.  The map was created by Steven Romalewski at CUNY and will continue to be updated for outreach purposes. You can also view an overview of the tool here.

Will You Count? Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) in the 2020 Census
This fact sheet from The Leadership Conference Education Fund notes that Asian Americans and NHPIs are referred to as "hard-to-count" and are at a higher risk of not being fully counted in the decennial census. Along with providing background on Asian American and NSPI households, the sheet also details ways for stakeholders to help improve the count of their households in the 2020 Census.

Will You Count? Latinos in the 2020 Census
This fact sheet from The Leadership Conference Education Fund notes that Latinos are referred to as "hard-to-count" and are at a higher risk of not being fully counted in the decennial census. Along with providing background on Latino households, the sheet also details ways for stakeholders to help improve the count of all Latino households in the 2020 Census.

The American Community Survey and Civil Rights
This fact sheet from The Leadership Conference Education Fund details The American Community Survey and backs why it must be adequately funded and protected from irresponsible efforts to undermine its purpose and effectiveness.

New Fact Sheet on Census Accuracy and Undercount
This new resource from the Funders' Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP) explains what we know about census accuracy and why it matters to funders and their grantees.

Why We Need the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey
by the Census Project, March 2016

FY2017 U.S. Census Bureau Appropriations: Why Full Funding Matters
by the Census Project, February 2016

2010 Census Funder Toolkit
This toolkit from the Ford Foundation provides valuable resources to help make a difference in the 2010 Census. It offers a snapshot of the 2010 Census, its implications and practical steps to ensure that everyone is counted.

How Census Data Affects Your Community - Funding of Federal, State and Local Programs
Examples of programs impacted by the Census count.

Supporting the Census and American Community Survey: A Toolkit for Coalition-Building
Produced by The Census Project, this toolkit offers information, resource and guidance for local stakeholders who want to create a coalition to help preserve a fair and accurate decennial census and comprehensive American Community Survey (ACS).

Everyone Counts!
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees infographic on national and California undercount data


Counting All Californians in the 2020 Census by William O’Hare
This report provides an overview of the changing demographics of Caifornia in relation to Census accuracy.

The Count Starts Now: Taking Action to Avoid a Census 2020 Crisis
NY Counts Full Count Committee released a white paper to help New Yorkers better understand what’s at stake for the 2020 Census, to encourage local governments to participate in LUCA and to begin ramp up for a full and complete census count.

Everyone Counts: How 2020 Census Data Matter to Your Bottom Line
National Association of Counties produced a report on the use of 2020 census data, especially for local governments.

An Accurate Count is Essential for a Strong America
Military, law enforcement and business leaders of Council for a Strong America call on Congress to act to secure adequate census funding.

Counting Everyone in the Digital Age: Implications of Technology Use in the 2020 Decennial Census for the Count of Disadvantaged Groups
The Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (GCPI)  report addresses how proposed Internet and automation technologies will affect 2020 Census enumeration for groups at risk of being undercounted. The report also includes actionable recommendations for Congress, the administration, and community leaders.

Counting For Dollars: The Role of the Decennial Census in the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds
This analysis of the geographic distribution of funds from the 16 largest Census-guided programs is designed to help stakeholders and policymakers understand the extent to which federal financial assistance is distributed on the basis of census-derived data. Fact sheets are available by program and states.

Race and Ethnicity in the 2020 Census: Improving Data to Capture a Multi-Ethnic America
This report from The Leadership Conference Education Fund examines the Census Bureau’s research and testing program from the perspective of civil rights stakeholders and to ensure that any revisions to the 2020 census race and ethnicity questions continue to yield data that support the advancement of fairness and equity in all facets of American life.

2020 Census Operational Plan
This document presents a summary of 2020 Census operational design and presents the high-level schedule of key milestones and the most critical project risks.

Five Steps for Reducing the High Net Undercount of Young Children in the 2020 Census
by Dr. William P. O’Hare, August 2016

Reports on Philanthropic Support for 2010 Census Outreach and Education
These reports from the Funders Census Initiative includes details on California philanthropic census efforts and overview of grants awarded across the country.

Recent News

5 Reasons a Robust Decennial Census Benefits All Americans - Urban Institute recently provided five reasons a well-funded, robust, and apolitical decennial census is an important American asset, not just for researchers, but for all Americans.

With 2020 Census Looming, Worries About Fairness and Accuracy - Article in New York Times about Census Bureau, policymakers and experts concerns.

It's more than a headcount: North Carolina’s stake in the 2020 Census - Op-ed facilitated by the Census Project and NC groups.

Untested U.S. Census Technology Puts National Security At Risk -  Op-ed from retired 3 star AL general facilitated by the Council for a Strong America.

Why would Trump choose this academic to lead the Census Bureau? - Washington Post editorial about concerns regarding the potential deputy director to be appointed as census bureau deputy director.

How the U.S. Defines Race & Ethnicity May Change Under Trump - A reminder from NPR that the Office of Management and Budget is expected to publish final revisions to the Standards for the collection and reporting of federal data on race and ethnicity December 1st.

A High-Stakes Headcount: Philanthropy and the 2020 Census - Inside Philanthropy article highlighting the work on the Democracy Funders Collaborative and regional philanthropic efforts including Michigan.

The Census Process is Off to a Lousy Start - Washington Post editorial board opinion from October 2017 on why Congress needs to take action now to save the census.

Many Challenges Ahead for 2020 Census - October 2017 NPR report on Commerce Secretary’s testimony to Congress that the 2020 Census will cost 25 percent more than originally estimated.

With a congressional seat in the balance, City Planning prepares for Census count - October 2017 article in Politico on how a community is participating in LUCA and the importance of doing so.

High-tech 2020 Census: Grant it enough money to make it count- The Seattle Times editorial board highlighted important talking points about why funding is needed now to support the 2020 census in September 2017.

U.S. Census Troubles Threaten Future Real Estate Development- July 2017 article from Forbes on what’s at stake for the census and how the commercial real estate industry would be impacted by an inaccurate count.

Forum's Voice: A Critical Moment for the 2020 Census and Why Philanthropy Should Care - May 12, 2017

The head of the Census Bureau just quit, and the consequences are huge - May 11, 2017 Vox article

Census Watchers Warn of a Crisis if Funding for 2020 Count is not Increased - April 18, 2017 article in Washington Post

Civil Rights Organizations and Census Experts Highlight Damaging Consequences of Congress’ Failure to Fund the 2020 Census Appropriately - March 30, 2017 press release from The Leadership Conference Education Fund focusing on critical policy decisions affecting the 2020 Census, including the need for Congress to provide sufficient funding in 2017 and 2018 for rigorous, on-time census planning and preparations.

Trump's Threat to the 2020 Census - April 9, 2017 Politico piece

Useful Links

Key Contacts in Wisconsin