Fundraising for the Census
You don't have to spend a lot of money to do basic education and outreach about the census among your clients, constituents, and communities; with a little creativity you can incorporate educational materials and events into your current programs.
But it will take some funds to engage in serious outreach efforts – money to print and distribute educational materials, to organize and publicize public events, to get information tables at public festivals and events, to do mailings, to keep volunteers happy with some food and drink.
We believe your ability to raise funds for a local census participation campaign will be strengthened if you become an LCCREF partner. Being connected to the national "Make Yourself Count" public education campaign can build confidence with funders that your organization's efforts are part of a national strategy, and that you'll be able to draw on the expertise and resources of LCCREF and its national partners to make your campaign a success.
For an effective fundraising effort, you will need:
- A clear statement of the need for your census campaign;
- Concrete measurable goals (number of events, number of people reached);
- A thought-out strategy and plan or timetable for reaching your goals;
- A reasonably detailed budget for putting your plan into action; and
- A detailed plan for approaching funders and enlisting their help.
Work with members of your own board and fundraising staff, as well as those of your allies, to put together a campaign budget and fundraising strategy. They should be able to identify local foundations, labor organizations, social and political clubs, and individual philanthropists who would be willing to support a well-thought out campaign that can result in real and long-lasting benefits to your community.
Here are some suggestions for each of these key areas.
Statement of Unmet Need or Problem
You should write a statement of the problem that conveys to potential funders the importance of ensuring a complete and accurate counting in the 2010 census.
Funders are increasingly interested in having specific measurable ways to evaluate the effectiveness of their funding. Many of them will require you to outline specific "deliverables" or "metrics" which will be used to evaluate whether and how well you accomplish your goals.
You could set a concrete goal for improving participation rates in the targeted geographical areas you plan to carry out your campaign; information about participation rates in 2000 is available from the U.S. Census Bureau.
You can also identify goals for the number of people you will reach. Here are some examples:
- Contact 600 community members through various outreach and educational activities.
- Assistance and collection of 300 completed census forms through outreach activities.
- Garner approximately 10 media stories through newspaper, radio, and TV.
A Strategic Plan / Timetable
In addition to making the case for the importance of the campaign, and outlining clear goals, you need to convince potential funders that you have a clear plan of action. A campaign plan or timetable can help them feel more confident that they know how their contributions will be spent.
Your campaign plan should spell out your strategy (planning, partnership development, volunteer recruitment and training, outreach activities, communications), as well as a calendar or timeline of key events or campaign milestones.
You will need to create a budget that is based on your campaign plan. Funders will want to see some level of detail to indicate that you have thought through the costs of your campaign, including staff time and other direct expenses.
If your budget ends up being bigger than what you think you can reasonably raise, take another look at your campaign plan and figure out where you might trim first. But don't be afraid to ask for what it will take to carry out the kind of campaign your community needs.
Once you have a realistic budget, consider your most likely funding sources.
- Do you have board members who would be able to make a special contribution to this project?
- Do you have donors who might make an additional contribution?
- Are board members or donors willing to approach their colleagues?
- What about local labor unions, political organizations, or other institutions (a public hospital, for example) with a stake in your community being fully represented? Do you know any of their board members?
- Are there churches or other religious congregations with community-focused funding?
- Are there local foundations that focus on the well-being of your state, city, or community?
You can find other tips and suggestions on fundraising here: