Editor’s Note: We’re publishing the following note from our friends at NVEN, the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network. This year they are spearheading efforts to raise awareness to the nonprofit community about the importance of helping undercounting constituencies become part of the Census process. (Today there are dozens of Census-related volunteer opportunities in the VolunteerMatch network as well.)
For nonprofits with constituencies that are chronically undercounted during each Census, the countdown is over. April 1 is here – kicking off the most important month of the entire 2010 Census operation. Make sure you are doing what you can to help your audiences get counted… often the first step to bringing much needed public and private resources to your community.
With the start of the Census collection period here, the number one priority is maximizing the mail participation rate – the percentage of those who mail back the questionnaires they received. Last year, the national mail participation rate was 72%. Currently, the rate is at 50%.
Increasing the mail participation rate is crucial to garnering an accurate count of our communities, not to mention diminishing a costly and time-consuming in-person follow up process.
Join the thousands of nonprofits across the country reminding their communities to “Mail It Back.” Here’s a list of 3 easy and efficient ways you can help.
- Promote or hold a March to the Mailbox. To volunteer, get in touch with your local Census office. To promote the Census Bureau’s national April 10th March to the Mailbox, or your own March to the Mailbox event, check out the Census Bureau’s toolkit.
- Promote Questionnaire Assistance Center (QAC) locations. QACs are local facilities that have donated space for a 2010 Census station, where Census employees to help individuals fill out their questionnaires. Find your local QACs at http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map. Post this information on your website or in another high-profile location.
- Add the Census to every communication you have with your audiences this month. Who returns the form, and who doesn’t, will determine federal funding for our communities for the next 10 years, as well as the demographic picture of our country. Remind, remind, remind! For some drop-in language, check out Nonprofits Count! factsheets at http://www.nonprofitscount.org/downloads.
Thanks to the nonprofits in all 50 states that have been doing great work to make sure the communities they serve are included in the portrait of America!
P.S. – Don’t forget to find out where your community’s mail participation rate is currently at, and how it compares with the national average, at 2010.census.gov. When you find your community’s participation rate, click “track participation rate” to generate a code for a rate-tracker widget to post on your website.
(Photo: U.S. Census Bureau)