Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The mail response rate

As of today, the national mail response rate for the 2010 Census has climbed to 46% from 25% over the last week (visit the map at 2010.census.gov to see how your community is doing). This is a terrific and encouraging jump, but still nowhere near the response rate we need for a representative portrait of our communities.

Last Census, in 2000, the national mail response rate was 72%. The Census is making every effort to boost the 2010 mail response rate to these levels before census takers are deployed in May to visit households in person - a costly and time-consuming undertaking. These efforts include the notification letters, in-language assistance postcards for non-English households, even replacement forms to targeted areas.

Apart from the paper campaigns, many communities and local Census offices have been holding their own "Get Out the Count" events - a March to the Mailbox. Like parades to the polls, these Marches have been making a neighborhood celebration out of doing their collective civic duty, complete with giveaways, t-shirts, noisemakers or just a lot of energy.

For those communities that haven't marched yet, the 2010 Census Bureau is coordinating a nationwide March to the Mailbox event on Saturday, April 10th, 2010. They are currently looking for volunteers to help with these activities locally.

The clock is ticking! To volunteer, get in touch with your local Census office. To promote the April 10th March to the Mailbox or your own March to the Mailbox event, check out the Census Bureau's toolkit.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's 3:30. Do you know where your Census form is?

The national average Census mail participation rate is currently at 20%, according to the 2010 Census website, which allows web browsers to track what percent of their town, county and state that has received Census forms have mailed them back so far. According to the map, Montana is currently leading the nation in mail participation rate at 33%, followed closely by Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Missouri.

In 2000, the mail participation rate was 72%. Starting in May, the Census Bureau will begin door-to-door outreach to collect responses from those households that did not return a form by mail.

Something to chew on: if 100% of households mailed back their forms, taxpayers would save $1.5 BILLION dollars. That's because it costs about $57 to take a Census interview in person, according to Census Director Groves, as opposed to relatively tiny cost associated with mailing out and receiving Census forms via USPS.

img src=US Census Bureau

Monday, March 22, 2010

Corporate Campaign Spending: Giving Shareholders A Voice

From the Brennan Center for Justice: a way to preserve democracy in the face of unlimited corporate spending on political campaign advocacy.

(Brennan Center for Justice - Forward, "Corporate Campaign Spending: Giving Shareholders A Voice")

In Citizens United, decided January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court gave an unequivocal green light for corporate money in elections, by outlawing under the First Amendment, laws that limit corporate spending in elections. This radical decision overturned more than 100 years of settled law. While it is difficult to know how distorting an effect on our democratic electoral processes this decision will have, it is reasonable to expect a significant increase in corporate expenditures.

Corporate law is ill-prepared for this new age of corporate political spending by publicly-traded companies. Today, corporate managers need not disclose to their investors – individuals, mutual funds, or institutional investors such as government or union pension funds – how funds from the corporate treasury are being spent, either before or after the fact. And the law does not require corporate managers to seek shareholder authorization before making political expenditures with corporate funds.

This report proposes changes in corporate law to adapt to the post-Citizens United reality. Two specific reforms are suggested: first, require managers to report corporate political spending directly to shareholders, and second, require managers to obtain authorization from shareholders before making political expenditures with corporate treasury funds. Modeled on existing British law, these changes will ensure that shareholders’ funds are used for political spending only if that is how the shareholders want their money spent.

Download the report here.

Brennan Center for Justice

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Now online: Find your local Questionnaire Assistance Center!

Now Online: Find your local Questionnaire Assistance Center!

Census forms have been mailed out. The time is now for nonprofits to help draw the portrait of America and define our communities for the next 10 years.

With just weeks left until forms must be returned, here is Nonprofits Count's list of five top ways for nonprofits to get involved with the 2010 Census.

Starting TODAY, March 18th, find and promote your local Questionnaire Assistance Center on the 2010 Census site

3. Log on to Nonprofits Count.org to access an online Census toolkit for nonprofits of fact sheets, multimedia, poster order form and other downloads

4. Find a map of contact information for local and regional Census offices at www.nonprofitscount.org

5. Advertise Census numbers for help on the 2010 questionnaire:
  • English: 1-866-872-6868
  • Chinese: 1-866-935-2010
  • Korean: 1-866-955-2010
  • Russian: 1-866-965-2010
  • Spanish: 1-866-928-2010
  • Vietnamese: 1-866-945-2010
  • TDD (Telephone Display Device for the hearing impaired): 1-866-783-2010
  • Puerto Rico (in English): 1-866-939-2010
  • Puerto Rico (in Spanish): 1-866-929-2010

To contact the Nonprofits Count campaign, call 1 877-4-1-COUNT

(img src= Census Bureau PIO)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Census forms have been mailed out!

Most of us here at the NVEN office have received our official 2010 US Census questionnaire in the mail within the last few days - have you?

For those who haven't, Director Groves has 3 steps to take listed on his blog:

1) Please wait a little longer. We have not yet finished delivery of the forms:

In areas where Census employees deliver the forms (rather than having the postal service deliver them), the delivery operation has been underway since the beginning of March, but will not be completed for all areas until the end of March.

In areas where the USPS is delivering the forms, that should be completed this week. In many of these areas, we will send a replacement form beginning in early April. If through some error you did not get your original form, you still might get a replacement form.

Please note that in some parts of the country (about 1% of all addresses), including remote areas, many American Indian reservations, or areas without postal delivery, the Census Bureau does not send a form to the household. In these areas, we send an enumerator to collect the household information in person. Except for these areas, we have gone to great lengths to ensure a questionnaire is delivered to every address. However, we know that sometimes this won't happen. Therefore we have set up two ways for you to be included in the census:

2) Visit a Questionnaire Assistance Center or Be Counted center.

These are sites where you can obtain a questionnaire. A “Be Counted” questionnaire asks you to put down a full description of your address, and then contains the same 10 questions as the other Census form. You can complete a Be Counted questionnaire if you have not received your form. Beginning March 19 through April 19, Be Counted questionnaires will be available in public locations, such as libraries, within your community and at Questionnaire Assistance Centers where census workers will be available to answer questions. Beginning March 18, these locations will be posted on 2010Census.gov.

3) Contact Us

If you still have not received your form by April 12, then you may contact one of our 2010 Census Toll-free help lines.

  • English: 1-866-872-6868
  • Chinese: 1-866-935-2010
  • Korean: 1-866-955-2010
  • Russian: 1-866-965-2010
  • Spanish: 1-866-928-2010
  • Vietnamese: 1-866-945-2010
  • TDD (Telephone Display Device for the hearing impaired): 1-866-783-2010
  • Puerto Rico (in English): 1-866-939-2010
  • Puerto Rico (in Spanish): 1-866-929-2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From the NVEN newsroom

(img src=ocaazk.org)

In case you missed it, here are a few updates from NVEN's most recent update email to its state nonprofit association partners:

Brookings Data

Many of you may have seen this already, but for those of you who have not the Brookings Institute has released new data breaking down federal assistance allocations based in whole or in part on Census data. There are state-by-state tables available as well as data by the 100 largest cities and 200 largest counties. http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2010/0309_census_dollars.aspx

Michigan Nonprofit Association on NPR

NVEN’s partner in Michigan, the Michigan Nonprofit Association, was highlighted in this excellent NPR story about nonprofits being key to a complete Census count. Way to go Kyle and everyone at MNA!


Ohio Census project makes the news

NVEN’s partners in Ohio also made the news with their Census rally featuring Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Excellent work!


LANO Website features the Census

Check out the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organization’s website—there is no mistaking that they are on board with the Census. It’s beautiful!www.lano.org

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Assisting Clients with their Census Questionnaire

Many nonprofits have asked us over the last few months what they can do to help their clients fill out and return their 2010 Census Questionnaire. Can they offer language assistance to non-English speakers? Can they help explain the meaning of a question to a client?

The Census Funders' Initiative has heard their call and with the help of the Census Bureau’s Partnership Office staff has developed a set of guidelines for nonprofits seeking to assist their clients. You download the 2 page PDF from The Census Project website. Some main points are summarized below:

DO …
  • Do refer people to official Questionnaire Assistance Centers whenever possible.
  • Do make sure you are familiar with the 2010 Census materials and concepts. For more information and helpful documents, consult our website at NonprofitsCount.org or the official 2010census.gov website.
  • Do use official Language Assistance Guides available at 2010census.gov for people with limited English proficiency.
  • Do answer questions about the census in a private area.
  • Do ask the respondent to seal the envelope and mail the form right away via the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Do not pretend to be an official Questionnaire Assistance Center or use the official census logo if you are offering assistance.
  • Do not help people complete forms or volunteer to staff the Questionnaire Assistance Center if your organization is hosting an official center that is staffed by a sworn census employee.
  • Do not gather completed forms for mailing at a later time. Ask respondents to place their completed forms in mail receptacles that are emptied daily by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Do not offer to collect or “bundle” the 2010 Census Forms. It is important to avoid any suggestion of impropriety. Respondents should return their own census form by mail through the U.S. Postal Service.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oregon 4th State to Offer Online Voter Registration

Voter registration should be easy and universal. Oregon is doing its part. Voters in there can now register to vote online, joining Kansas, Arizona and Washington in letting new voters register online.

No more hunting down forms. More a technology that more people, especially under 30, use for everything else. It's not the only answer to universal registration. Same day or Election Day registration does more. Pre-registration of 16 an 17 years old is another trend that will make a difference. But it's great step and sends a message that government should do everything possible to make voting accessible to all. For more.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Census Bureau Director to Launch Children Awareness Campaign Featuring Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves and key partners will hold a press conference to launch a 2010 Census public awareness campaign, Children Count Too, about the importance of counting infants and young children on census forms.

Many important programs that support children receive funds allocated through Census data. These include Head Start, Reading First, Special Education, Child Welfare Services, Literacy through School Libraries, State Children's Insurance Programs and more. An accurate of our nation's babies and children is crucial for ensuring proper funding resources for these programs over the next 10 years.

In support of this initiative, Census Bureau partner Nickelodeon will debut a new television spot featuring Dora the Explorer, the popular children’s character on the network’s award-winning animated preschool series. The briefing will include a media question-and-answer session.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
10 a.m. (EST)

  • Robert M. Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau
  • Samantha Maltin, senior vice president of integrated marketing
  • and partnerships, Nickelodeon
  • Michael Laracy, director of policy reform and advocacy, Annie E.
  • Casey Foundation
  • William O’Hare, senior consultant, Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Chris Perille, vice president of corporate communications and
  • public affairs, Mead
  • Johnson Nutrition
  • Maria Gomez, president, Mary’s Center

Mary’s Center
2355 Ontario Road, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Now that's more like it.

Well done, Census. I was wondering when the Census was going to become more of an "outside joke" instead of an "inside joke" (see earlier post on Ed Begley Jr. Census ads). These are great!

Why the Census asks for your phone number

Thanks to Census Director Dr. Robert Groves for clearing up an issue that seems to have stirred up a few questions on confidentiality.

Question: If the Census is confidential and not meant to gather "personal" information, why does it ask for your phone number?

Answer, courtesy of Dr. Groves' Census blog:

"We found over past censuses that sometimes there are contradictory answers given on some questions. For example, some folks in the first question on the form answer that there are four people living in the household. Then, as they proceed through the form, they report the attributes of only three people. This is easy to do if you lose track of your progress through the form. When we process the form in our centers, we notice this discrepancy. We are devoted to making sure we collect the most accurate data possible.

With the telephone number of the household we can have a quick telephone call to resolve the discrepancy. Our only use of the telephone number is to verify that we have recorded accurate information about the household.

Like all census responses, the telephone number is shared with no other agency or company. Once we make sure we understand all your responses, we remove the record of the telephone number from our files."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Great resources for counting children in 2010

(Dora the Explorer is the "spokesgirl" of the US Census Bureau's outreach campaign around counting children in the 2010 Census)

Hoisted from the Frontera Asset Building Network's recent newsletter, here are some great downloads for learning how any why children need to be counted in the upcoming 2010 Census.

Why Are Young Children Missed So Often in the Census? Download here
A paper providing details on why children are most often undercounted in the Census, what the prospects are for 2010 and suggestions about what can be done to get a more complete count. From The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Counting Every Child So That Every Child Counts. Download here
A webinar presenting an overview of the Census, why children are undercounted and ways you can work in your community to help ensure an accurate count of all children. From The Center for Public Policy Priorities, Texans Care for Children and Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition

Talking Points for Accurately Counting Children in Census 2010 Download here

Counting Children: Frequently Asked Questions and Their Answers Download here

Poster & fact sheet: Dora reminds you to include all little explorers in the 2010 Census Download here
A great poster using Dora the Explorer to draw attention to why it is so important to count children in this Census. From the U.S. Census Bureau