Talking About Census 2020: Efforts by Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County
By Kallie Sulanke, Community Engagement Officer, The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County
In 2018, the 2020 Census seemed like a distant thought; however, Indiana Philanthropy Alliance (IPA) had the foresight to start pushing out information about its importance. As the local community foundation (The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County), we saw the chance to share this information as an opportunity to show our leadership in Delaware County.
At an all-nonprofit meeting in late 2018, we shared a simple infographic from IPA about the impact of the Census 2020 in directing federal dollars to our state. It was easy to see how that would trickle down and have a local impact as well. Everyone seemed to be chattering about the importance of a complete and accurate census.
Hosting a Census Council
Sharing the information seemed like a valuable first step, but we knew we wanted to do more to make sure the people in our community were completely and accurately counted. At the end of 2018, we made a plan to convene a Census Council. Individuals from our city and town governments, community organizations, and local schools were invited to participate.
We defined a purpose for the council—to explore opportunities to promote the census, encourage community-wide participation so that everyone is counted, and brainstorm ideas and partners to assist the people most-likely to be missed through today’s census process.
We also clearly expressed the role of our foundation in the council. We are acting as a convener of community leaders and nonprofit representatives interested in promoting the upcoming census. We will share resources on the importance of the census, as well as information about efforts by other communities that could be replicated in this community. We also plan to utilize an intern through the GIFT Community Foundation Intern Program to develop a community-wide campaign related to the census—our own Local Census 2020 Communications Toolkit.
Invitations were extended to identified participants for the first meeting in February 2019. The meeting was attended by 13 community representatives. During the meeting, participants shared their questions, concerns, and experiences with the census. The group also identified other individuals and organizations that should be invited to participate. Following this meeting, foundation staff researched the groups’ questions, met with a Census Bureau employee, and began planning for the next meeting.
The second meeting was held in April. Additional participants identified during the first meeting were invited, and more than 20 of them attended this second meeting. The goal for the meeting was to generate a list of audiences, marketing mediums, and partners to be addressed through the Local Census 2020 Communications Toolkit.
Using facilitation tools and techniques, foundation staff walked the group through a series of activities to hone our key audiences of “hard-to-count” people in our community, identify the best ways to reach those audiences based on cost and total exposure, and identified additional community partners who should be approached to help us share the message. The information was summarized so that the intern could begin to work on the toolkit.
The group anticipates bi-monthly meetings through Census Day (April 1) 2020. The intern will create the communications plan and begin creating a series of deliverables about the importance of taking part in the Census. Then, these focused deliverables will be shared with partners.
Moving forward, the Council will continue to identify activities to increase Census outreach and participation—perhaps even a community-wide Census Day celebration.