Washington Funders: An Opportunity to Make a Difference in Census 2020

Washington Funders: An Opportunity to Make a Difference in Census 2020

Kiran Ahuja

As you may know, since late 2017, Philanthropy Northwest has been actively engaged in local, regional and national efforts to ensure a fair and accurate Census 2020. The census is important to all of us, no matter your sector, whether it is philanthropy, corporate or government. The census is also critically important to the Northwest. Urban and rural communities across our six-state region depend on federal resources, derived using population size and other formulas, totaling more than $31.3 billion annually. What’s more, grant makers use census data to better understand their local communities, target populations needing support and determine how best to allocate funds in a given grant cycle. Though no one foundation or donor may articulate “investing in the census” as among its priorities, a robust census impacts EVERY one of our programs or issues.

Over the past year, we’ve supported our network on census efforts in multiple ways: hosting numerous informational briefings and webinars; providing one-on-one consultations and tailored presentations for our members; strengthening cross-sector partnerships with local and state governments and the U.S. Census Bureau; issuing regular and timely email bulletins on the latest Census 2020 efforts; and now, launching a pooled funding effort.

In early 2019, we will officially launch a statewide pooled fund, the Washington State Census Funding Partnership (Partnership), seeded with a generous grant by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Partnership will align collective grantmaking strategies to ensure communities across the state are fully counted in 2020. Key goals of the fund will be to:

  • Increase communication and coordination of work around Census 2020 in Washington;
  • Achieve effective, efficient, strategic and increased philanthropic investments; and
  • Support education, community outreach, regional communications, policy advocacy and other “Get Out the Count” activities.
Census worker image
Photo: U.S. Census Bureau

We believe the Partnership will build upon activities already underway by several funders and government entities in Washington State, and achieve a collective impact that will go far beyond the 2020 Census. Partnership members will strengthen their infrastructure for working together, and with the deeper connections gained through this effort – across philanthropy, and with community organizations and tribal, state, county and city governments – we will have a proven model of more inclusive and responsive collaboration ready to activate when community-wide needs emerge. Our tested strategies from working together on the census will strengthen communities toward building a more vibrant democracy.

Currently, we are actively recruiting funders and donors to join the Washington State Census Funding Partnership and be part of this important and historic effort to ensure a fair and accurate Census 2020 count in Washington. If interested, please reach out to Meredith Higashi our director of public policy and advocacy.

In addition, we know that our colleagues in other parts of our six-state region, including Oregon, Alaska and Montana, are actively engaged in census efforts, including a recent commitment of aligned philanthropic resources in Oregon. We will continue to support those efforts, and share and learn from the work they have undertaken. We appreciate updates about all of the great work happening across the region.

We look forward to hearing from you!