Below are some frequently asked questions about the Census. If you have a question, please contact us.

When is the Census?

The next Census will be conducted from March-May 2020. April 1 is National Census Day, so start thinking of ways for your nonprofit to help facilitate responses. Beginning in May, Census workers will go to door to door to count households that did not self-report. The count will be finalized by December 31, 2020.

Why Does the Census Matter?

Federal, state, and local governments use Census data to determine how tax dollars and other resources are allocated.

  • Washington State receives approximately $13.7 billion in federal funds for a variety of human service, community development, and health programs.
    • Each missed household in the census count costs Washington State approximately $4,800 in federal funds.
  • The Washington State Legislature allocates approximately $200 million in state funds for programs based off of census data.
  • Local governments use census data to determine where development should take place and how local dollars should be spent.

Nonprofit organizations use census data to plan and target their services.

  • The data collected shows geographic areas that are underserved, which gives data that informs service delivery.
  • The data collected and published by the Census Bureau is also used to inform grant proposals and other projects designed to raise the quality of life in our communities.

The Census also determines how political boundaries are drawn.

  • The data collected helps inform Washington State’s Redistricting Committee’s work to ensure that legislative districts are drawn fairly so that communities are represented in Olympia and Washington, DC.

How will people know to participate?

In March, each household in the United States will receive a letter or postcard from the Census Bureau with online participation instructions. We’ve been told that there will likely be additional letters or postcards sent out, in case people miss or misplace their initial letters.

What Data Confidentiality Requirements Exist to Protect Respondents?

There are indications that some may be reluctant to participate in the census due to fear of the government and concern that their information could be used to harm them or their families. This factsheet (click to download) provides background on the existing law regarding disclosure of census data by the Census Bureau. It is intended to help community leaders and respondents better understand the benefits and risks to individual respondents participating in the 2020 Census. 

Can nonprofits provide incentives to complete the Census?

The Census Bureau understands that organizations may provide incentives for filling out the 2020 Census. While there are no regulations on providing incentives for participation in the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau national and local partnership program is happy to work with organizations to educate them on the benefits of the 2020 Census.

Additional Resources

Below are some resources that you can use to learn more about the Census: