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For a Fair and Accurate Census

For a Fair and Accurate Census

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Council of New Jersey Grantmakers joins the Funders Census InitiativeUnited Philanthropy Forum, and philanthropy-serving organizations around the country in asking our members to support and encourage a fair and accurate Census in 2020.

Inaccurate Census information means too many voices go unheard.

It means decisions about funding and services crucial to promoting thriving communities aren’t based on real needs.

And, it threatens the full exercise of democracy itself.

Of particular concern is a controversial proposed question that would ask household members whether they are US citizens. The Council shares with our colleagues across the nation serious concern about this question. The question hasn’t been thoroughly tested, and it is likely to significantly depress response rates and critically reduce overall Census participation.

We encourage you to weigh in on this and other matters related to the Census.

The US Department of Commerce Department (which oversees the Census Bureau) published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comments on 2020 Census data collection operations. The public has until August 7 to submit comments.

There are several things you and your grantees can do to stand up for a fair, accurate Census: 

  • Sign on to a letter specifically for foundations drafted by FCI. Click here for more information and to sign on to the letter.
  • Write your own letter in support of a full, accurate and just 2020 Census. Click here for a template the Funders Census Initiative created and to download the sample letter. 
  • Submit personal comments by August 7, using this link.
  • Ask 10 colleagues to do the same.

In case you’re wondering, submitting comments is not considered lobbying. So, private foundations can weigh in on this question, and public charities — including community foundations — can do so without tracking and reporting it as lobbying on their 990s. A recent blog from Bolder Advocacy addresses this issue.

As a regional association and philanthropy-serving organization, CNJG signed on to a letter organized by United Philanthropy Forum urging withdrawal of the citizenship question from the 2020 US Census.  The letter in part states:

“Across our varied institutions, we share a commitment to reliable and accurate data as a necessary foundation for a well-functioning government, robust civil society, and thriving business sector in the United States."


Please feel free to reach out to me or Theresa Jacks, CNJG Deputy Director, for information about the Council’s work on behalf of a fair and accurate 2020 US Census.


Jon Shure, Interim President/CEO
Council of New Jersey Grantmakers