The 2020 Census was distributed mid-March, and the race to get an accurate count is on its way. Local governments, funders, and nonprofits had planned to raise awareness through grassroots events, but many of these - training sessions at libraries, houses of worship, neighborhood parties and community centers - have been canceled due to COVID-19. Door to door canvassing are also on hold also because of coronavirus social isolation measures and the national state of emergency.
How can you adapt your census outreach strategies while taking measures to protect yourself, your field workers, and your community?
Here’s our tips for our partners to consider as you evaluate innovative ways to stay on your 2020 Census mission.
1. Stay Informed
There is a lot of misinformation out there. It is imperative to stay updated on health guidelines from trusted organizations like the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or Public Health Emergency. Ensure your staff and community gets the most up to date reports from reliable sources to avoid spreading misinformation and creating unnecessary panic.
2. Leverage Social Media
Your inspiring census posters and flyers can be adapted to be shared on social media. Depending on the demographic you’re trying to reach - Facebook, Twitter, NextDoor, WhatsApp, and WeChat - there are groups that your staff or your volunteers can reach online to distribute your Census 2020 information.
3. Set up virtual events
Set up a Zoom room. Zoom Government offers technology solutions to quickly and easily set up Webinars and virtual events. Consider shifting your in-person event strategy to online. With several private and public sector events being canceled, people will be attending virtual events. For tips on how to set up a virtual event, go here. You can also leverage Facebook Live Stream for greater active engagement during a virtual event, or if you wish to have your audience participate. Here is a guide.
4. Reach out via Text
CommunityConnect Labs offers a text messaging tool that helps you stay in touch with your community. You can leverage the technology to remind them of upcoming virtual Census information sessions or to send them links to resources for them to take the Census themselves. To learn more about our offering, you can click here.
5. Use More Video
Videos are an easy way to get information out to your audience. Consider setting up a small studio and sharing regular video updates on social. And, don't worry, you don't have to be a videographer or have a specialized degree in cinema to create a video. Here are some quick resources for setting up video yourself. There are also several free video editing providers you can use.
6. Answer Questions via the Census Virtual Help Desk
You can still answer your residents' questions about the Census using digital resources such as the Census HelpDesk. Residents can ask questions and get answers by SMS text message, Facebook messenger or via chatbot on your website. HelpDesk is a digital resource that will answer your communities' questions 24/7, in multiple languages. You can easily promote Census HelpDesk through existing marketing and social media channels. For example, posts suggesting “For questions, click or text to [insert number].”
There’s time for nonprofits and governments to pivot their strategies. Digital tools can help governments and nonprofits continue to do census outreach, to bring funding to local communities who now, more than ever, will need them.