Philanthropy’s Role in the 2020 Census

Today, Arizona Grantmakers Forum joins Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation’s Funders Census Initiative, United Philanthropy Forum and philanthropy-serving organizations around the country in asking our members to commit to a fair and accurate census.

“Census Day,” April 1, 2020, is now less than two years away and the time to act is now.

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 people of color, young children and the rural and urban poor, leading to inequality in political power and inaccessibility to public funding and private investment for these communities. Going into 2020, additional communities, including immigrants, refugees, unmarried women and the LGBTQ community are at risk of being missed.

Of that $600 billion, $13.5 billion is distributed to our state based on census data. Furthermore, within Arizona’s 15 counties, we have significant hard-to-count communities that had low mail response rates in the 2010 census. Being hard to count can lead to unequal political representation and unequal access to vital public and private resources for these groups and their communities. Our state has so much at stake, and we need to ensure a fair and accurate census. Without accurate census data, the communities you care about could see less investment in their vital public and private resources.

The 2020 Census is facing unprecedented challenges, including a recent announcement from Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross that a citizenship question will be added to the 2020 decennial census, in response to a request from the Department of Justice. FCI hosted an emergency briefing on this issue on March 29, 2018. To receive the link to the recording, please complete this form.

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. So what can you do?

Here are three things you can do today:

  1. Review the Funder Menu of Options created in partnership by United Philanthropy Forum and the Funders Census Initiative (FCI 2020) to help funders identify what they can to do.
  2. Join the Funders Census Initiative, United Philanthropy Forum and co-sponsors on April 9 for the webinar, “Participate. Convene. Invest.: A Call to Action for the 2020 Census.” Register here.
  3. Join the Funders Census Initiative Working Group. As a working group member, you’ll have access to the core listserv for funders to connect on their work at the national, state and local levels. There is no cost, and you don’t need to be a FCCP member to join.

Please contact AGF Senior Director of Education and Communications Kim Garbacz with any questions. Also, check out the FCI and Forum websites for a library of resources and information on the census.

Thank you for your commitment to making sure that everyone counts!