Nonprofit Knowledge Matters | Nonprofits and the 2010 Census

March 16, 2010

Because the 2010 Census is so significant for nonprofits, this special edition of Nonprofit Knowledge Matters focuses on what nonprofits need to do in the next 2 weeks to help their communities and nonprofits avoid losing money and power

Why should nonprofits get involved in the Census?

1.  Your local community potentially could lose millions of dollars if your area suffers an undercount. The federal government will distribute almost $4 trillion over the next decade based on the data collected in the Census. State governments also distribute billions of dollars every year based on census data.

Programs that help people through tough times, educate our children, protect our environment, and enrich peoples’ lives receive federal funding based on the Census. For example, census data distributes funding to the states for numerous programs, including this tiny sampling:

  • Section 8 affordable housing
  • Head Start
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Low income energy assistance
  • Water treatment and conservation programs
  • National Foundation on Arts and Humanities, which provides pass-through grants for arts funding in the states.

2. Your nonprofit could lose funding, either directly or indirectly, if an undercount occurs. Does your nonprofit deliver essential human services, provide affordable housing, offer mentoring programs for youth, protect the environment, or promote the arts? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions (and many like them), your nonprofit could lose (or gain) because government dollars often flow to nonprofits to deliver those programs based on census data. Plus, even if you don’t get money directly from the government, if your state or service area suffers an undercount and loses government money, then grantmakers might redirect their funding from your nonprofit to fill the void of lost government funds for needed human services delivered by others.

3.  Nonprofits have unique access to and credibility with the communities they serve. You have a great opportunity to engage your core constituents to complete the Census form and avoid an undercount.

4. The communities many nonprofits serve could lose political clout through an undercount. Congressional and legislative districts are redrawn according to the count, so an undercount will lead to underrepresentation.

“Nonprofits Count,” an initiative of the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network, explains Why nonprofits can make a difference.

How can nonprofits participate?

Nonprofits can partner with the Census in many different ways. Participation can be as simple as putting up a poster in your office, or as involved as appointing a staff member to be a liaison for local Census officials.

Where can I find facts about the Census and basic information?

The 2010 Census website is the main hub for information on the Census. Another website, Census by the Numbers provides some interesting facts about the Census. Nonprofits Count also offers the following fact sheets to give you some basic history and information about the Census process.

These quick fact sheets can help answer questions about hard to count populations:       

Forms are available in other languages

Nonprofits that serve non-English speaking individuals should be aware that there are several language guides to help you sign people up. The sample form is currently available in English and in a bilingual English/Spanish version. The actual questionnaire that will be mailed to households in March 2010 will be available in a variety of languages, including Spanish - Korean - Vietnamese - Simplified Chinese - Russian. If the form is not available in the language an individual speaks, you can use one of the additional language guides. These guides will explain how to fill out the basic English form. Please note the language guide IS NOT a valid substitute for the official form. There are over 50 additional language assistance guides available.

Links to other Resources