The start of a new decade means it's time to prepare for another Census questionnaire. And we at ONEplace want to make sure that nonprofit organizations do everything they can to ensure that the people they serve are counted in 2010. Why? Because ten years ago, in the 2000 Census, it is estimated that Michigan was undercounted by about 70,000 people, resulting in a loss of millions of dollars in federal funding.
According to Sam Singh, census consultant for the Michigan Nonprofit Association, "Census data is used to determine political representation; where to build new roads, schools, and businesses; where services for the elderly and the homeless are necessary; and where job and job programs are needed." And when people are missed in the total count, often the services that have been created to help those very people end up suffering.
"The nonprofit community is uniquely positioned to dramatically strengthen and improve this year's census participation because you often directly serve these hard-to-count populations. Michigan's historically undercounted residents - immigrants, people of color, low-income families, and those who are highly mobile and live in complex households" are the people who, every day, walk in and out of the door of nonprofits. What better way to directly impact the funding those agencies receive than to take advantage of every opportunity to talk with services recipients about the Census, explain the benefits of a complete count, and actively promote their participation.
To help nonprofits reach their constituents, the Nonprofits Count! in Michigan campaign has an online Census Toolkit. Available in English and Spanish, the materials in this toolkit include, among other things, more details about the Census questionnaire, which is now a simple 10-question survey; as well as more information about the confidentiality of Census responses.
Please take a minute to look at these materials and make use of as many of them as possible at your site. The end result will benefit not only your organization but our entire community and the state of Michigan.
2010 Census: Nonprofits Count