By Ernie Smith
With funding expected to be an issue with the next U.S. Census and the process expected to move online, nonprofits and associations could play an even more important role in ensuring everyone’s accounted for—especially among minority populations.
More than two years out from the 2020 Census, concerns have been growing about how budget shortfalls might limit the future resources of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Could one solution to that issue, however, come from the nonprofit sector? Groups are already lining up support ahead of the 2020 population count, which many people might do online for the first time as the bureau readies digital tools.
For instance, the Funders Census Initiative and The Bauman Foundation have supported the census efforts for years, with both organizations beginning their 2020 preparation and training efforts years ago. Gary Bass, The Bauman Foundation’s executive director, says that the funding is particularly important to nonprofits, as it helps determine government funding, research, and political districting, among other things.
“It’s probably the most important dataset in the country that no one’s ever heard about. We all, every funder and every grantee, have probably used census data,” he said in comments to Inside Philanthropy.
Outside of foundation and advocacy work, associations are also gearing up their Census work. The Michigan Nonprofit Association recently announced a campaign to improve reporting of populations that are typically undercounted, particularly Middle Eastern and Hispanic communities, both of which make up significant parts of the state’s population.
MNA recently received a $600,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to help boost outreach in key areas of the state. The group is also working with other nonprofits to help with messaging as well as to secure other grants.
Getting a proper count is important for nonprofits in Michigan and other states—as it can lead to funding cuts. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, the state would stand to lose $1,800 per person annually for every person undercounted. MNA has a solid track record on this point, helping ensure Michigan was one of the best-counted states during the 2010 Census.
In comments to the newspaper, MNA’s vice president, Joan Bowman, says that nonprofits can help bolster relationships with such communities—especially those the federal government struggles with.
“Distrust of government is at an all-time high,” Bowman told the news outlet. “Nonprofits are one of the last trusted entities.”