How funders are getting involved in the 2020 Census

by Raima Roy

Without adequate fundraising, Census 2020 GOTC efforts are difficult to implement. This blog will cover resources available to for funders to engage in the census, efforts that funders have already supported, and fundraising strategies for organizations on the ground.

National funder engagement on the census is driven by a strategy that focused on populations that have been historically undercounted. National funders are supporting the following efforts to support national infrastructure for education and Get-Out-The-Count efforts:

· Develop culturally resonant messages

· Develop and conduct a GOTC media/communications plan

· Create a network of expert national “hub” organizations

· Create a rapid response network

· Test and disseminate technologies to assist in outreach and organizing; increase digital organizing capacity

· Provide technical assistance for state and local funders

· Special matching fund for local outreach & assistance

Participants in the webinar were able to hear from the Democracy Funders Collaborative Census Subgroup and the Funders Census Initiative, FCCP who provided an overview of resources. Below is more information about the organizations and the tips they suggested.

Census Equity Fund

The Census Equity Fund is a national pooled fund of the Census Subgroup to support state and regional efforts to prepare for and conduct outreach to encourage full participation in the 2020 census.

The fund is targeted to states with large historically undercounted populations and fewer philanthropic resources. Priority states include:

Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, Arkansas, Nevada, Tennessee, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, North Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma

The Census Equity Fund selection criteria highlights include organizations that have a feasible work plan with effective strategies to reach HTC communities and a history of involvement with and ability to reach HTC communities. The fund is also looking for organizations that plan to utilize outreach resources available through reputable national networks or other sources to avoid duplication of effort, have strong partnerships with others in the field, and are also able to raise funding locally to support projects.

Census State Landscape Scan

Another resource the Census Subgroup supported was a State Landscape Scan to explore best practices and models of engagement between state-based funders and between state-based funders and nonprofits. The full report is available here.

Some of report’s key takeaways include:

· Attend to coordination gaps. Assess and invest in capacity to coordinate census work other funders, PSOs, nonprofits, grassroots groups, businesses, civic infrastructure, state and local government.

· Explore coordination and partnership models that fit your state: tight and formal or loose and informal; regional, centralized, or mixed hubs; geographic, demographic, or blended lens.

· Focus on messenger and message context more than wordsmithing. Hire and mobilize people from historically undercounted communities

· Address fears, but also create space for communities to leverage census as a tool for their own liberation. Putting census in the hands of the people most affected can generate powerful transformation.

· Don’t wait- start now.

· Invest in relationship building and co-creation with historically undercounted groups — including Indigenous Tribes — as early as possible.

· Identify centers of gravity for census work: leverage existing infrastructure, but also look beyond the usual suspects to effectively reach historically undercounted communities.

· If you receive funding currently, consider setting aside money for census from your existing grant

· Applying for local funding to fill in any monetary gaps.

Funders Census Initiative, Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation

The Funders’ Census Initiative (FCI) is a working group of FCCP that supports strategy development, learning, planning, and coordination by funders.

How Organizations Can Engage and Access Resources:

· Connect with national hubs

· Ask funders who are currently supporting your work for an add-on grant to support your census efforts

· Connect interested funders to FCI

· Help distribute Requests for Proposals

You might be interested in these additional Resources for your 2020 Census local efforts:

These organizations, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, have developed culturally resonant messaging strategies.

· Arab American Institute/American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

· Color of Change

· NALEO Educational Fund

· National Congress of American Indians

· Partnership for America’s Children

· San Joaquin Valley, CA research

These National Hubs provide materials and trainings for GOTC.

· Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

· Community Action Partnership

· Fair Immigration Reform Movement

· Faith in Public Life and Shepherding the Next Generation

· National LGBTQ Task Force

· Partnership for America’s Children

· Ready Nation

· State Voices and Leadership Conference Education Fund

· Color of Change

· National Urban League

· NALEO Educational Fund

· Natl Congress of American Indians

· Arab American Institute/American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

· American Library Association

· Community Connects Lab

· Ethnic Media Services

· Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequity

· National Association of Counties

· National Conference of State Legislatures

· National League of Cities

For Regional trainings in your area, please visit

APIAVote is a national nonpartisan organization that works with partners to mobilize Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in electoral and civic participation. APIAVote’s Norman Y. Mineta Leadership Institute provided opportunities for increasing leadership and organizing capacity of the AANHPI community through their 2020 Norman Y. Mineta Leadership Institute Regional Trainings.

These trainings are focused on preparing states for presidential primaries and 2020 Census efforts. They span from May — October 2020.

Getting out the count for the census is a massive effort and it cannot be accomplished successfully without the support of state, local, and grassroots organizations. Fundraising for such a crucial event can seem daunting, but with these funding resources and opportunities, we hope to provide organizations on the ground more tools and guidance to make sure every community is counted.

Watch the webinar here.

Raima Roy is the Program Associate for Census and Civic Engagement at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.



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Advancing Justice – AAJC

Fighting for civil rights for all and working to empower #AsianAmericans to participate in our democracy.