The most recent round of data released by the United States Bureau of the Census offers population, race and housing information on levels that reach from state to block levels. The data will be used to determine everything from federal, city and local representation districts to assessment of citizens’ needs – and therefore access to federal and state dollars.

The report represents only the first salvo in the data’s potential impact on nonprofits. The surveying process in 2020 had several hurdles. The Trump administration’s maneuvers to include a citizenship question on the form might have tamped down participation. Additionally, traditional in-person data collection efforts were hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, as health protocols discouraged face-to-face interactions.

Because of these factors, the results are likely to be litigated on the federal, state and local levels. The stakes are large: Washington D.C.-based National Council of Nonprofits President and CEO Tim Delaney estimates there is $900 billion in federal distributions riding on the results.

“If you live in an area where everyone is counted, you get your fair share of federal dollars,” Delaney said. “But if someone is not counted, they still exist. They still need food, they still need education, they still need transportation, they still need all the basics.”

In addition to the government dollars at stake, nonprofit managers use this data to determine where their constituents are, and what services they might need. Accurate census data could be the determinant factor between building a senior center or a preschool facility. Or, even, whether the nonprofit should physically relocate, especially if its mission involves on-site service.

Read the full article about the financial impact of low census counts by Richard H. Levey at The Nonprofit Times.