Giving Compass' Take:

• This Ford Foundation post explores the financial, logistical and political issues at hand when it comes to the 2020 census, and how they can be addressed. 

• Funders are encouraged to support national and local organizations dedicated to a fair, accurate census, while other organizations should looking into reaching "hard to count" communities.

• Here's more on why philanthropy must help save the census.

As we approach 2020, there are serious challenges facing the census. There is a real and growing threat of a significant census undercount, particularly in communities of color, among children and in poor, rural, and immigrant communities across the country. (The CUNY Mapping Service site HTC 2020 identifies and explains specific “hard to count” communities in every state.) Because so many pieces of our democracy and economy rely on census data, an inaccurate census will have devastating consequences. And because the census happens only once every ten years, those consequences will last for a decade.

Which brings us to the biggest challenges facing a fair and accurate census count in 2020:

The Census Bureau is underfunded. The US Census Bureau, the agency responsible for conducting the census, is severely underfunded, resulting in significant cuts to its local field offices, the number of door-to-door enumerators it will hire, and its advertising and public education efforts. Funding cuts have also caused the Bureau to hold only one limited “end to end” test to identify glitches and gaps, instead of the three or four it has held in previous cycles.

The 2020 census will be the first conducted online. 2020 will be the first time the census will be conducted online, creating the potential for hacking and system crashes, and online disinformation campaigns—all of which are exacerbated by the Bureau’s lack of funding, as well as by distrust of government, particularly in communities of color and immigrant communities.

Read the full article about the issues with the 2020 cencus by Erika L. Wood at Ford Foundation.