Tips for Who Should Be On your Complete Count Committee – 8 Census Experts Give their Advice

Jan 11, 2019
Ian Anstee

We asked census veterans working across the country — from New York City to Minnesota to the Silicon Valley — on how to put together a great Complete Count Committee. Complete Count Committees (CCCs) are volunteer bodies assembled at the city, county, and state level that help with census local outreach and ensuring everyone is counted. Below are some words-of-wisdom for setting your committee up for success!


Adrienne Pon - Executive Director, San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs

“Complete count committee members should be cross-sector collaborators who think outside of the box.  You want working members, not just big names. They should have a network, bring assets to the table — connections, creativity and expertise — and be knowledgeable about where hard-to-count populations live and how to effectively reach and motivate community members.”


Manuel Santamaria - Vice President of Community Impact, Silicon Valley Community Foundation

“You need to build subcommittees within your CCC based on your region’s constituency — e.g., different levels of the educational system, faith, by neighborhoods which have the densest concentration of families and children.”
“Each subcommittee should be prepared to meet once a month or more frequently depending on the need. And once the CCC and it subcommittees are formed, that’s when you reach out to local neighborhoods to let them know when meeting times are and how they can participate.”


Marcia Avner - Consultant to Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership, Minnesota Council on Foundations

“For its state committee, Minnesota has a four co-chair model: One co-chair from the business community, one from the philanthropic and tribal community, a former mayor of Minneapolis, and one who represents the state government. You need to have representatives from multiple constituencies to signal that the census truly does matter.”
“The leadership of the CCC is important. It is valuable to engage those whose participation shows that this is important work in the community. And the leaders need to be prepared to work as advocates and champions for the census in arenas where they are known and have influence.”


Bob Coats - Governor’s Census Liaison, North Carolina Office of State Budget & Management

“Public-private partnerships are crucial, which means including local businesses on your committee. Businesses use census data to guide decisions about their product and their marketing strategies. They can help with outreach by incorporating messaging in their own materials and products (for instance: a local donut shop putting a 2020 Census logo on their boxes).”
“The more Complete Count Committees that are formed, the better.”

Suzan Reagan - Senior Program Manager, New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research

“Complete Count Committees need to leverage existing infrastructure to spread messaging around the census — Putting postcards in the hands of utility workers to drop off at the addresses they visit, of property managers to give to tenants, even of children at school to give to their parents when they go home. It’s helpful to have representatives from those places — schools, businesses — on your committee.”
“Any group of people can get together and form a Complete Count Committee. It doesn’t have to be commissioned by the government.”


Joe Salvo - Director, Population Division at NYC Department of City Planning

“Differentiating the roles in your Complete Count Committee is crucial to its success. Each committee, for instance, should appoint someone whose sole responsibility it is to monitor and execute outreach in concert with local government; likewise, each committee will want a subcommittee to focus exclusively on enumerator recruitment.”


Ed Kissam - Founder, WKF Giving Fund

“Complete Count Committees shouldn’t just settle for messaging. They can also provide input on local census operations and brainstorm solutions to obstacles in the way of a complete count for their community. When West Virginia changed their addressing system, for instance, members of the 2010 Complete Count Committee who were familiar with the region alerted the Census Bureau and were able to direct increased address canvassing in that region.”


Jan Masaoka - CEO, CalNonprofits

“The makeup of your Complete Count Committee depends on your strategy.  If your strategy is door-to-door canvassing, then include stakeholders from affordable housing nonprofits. If your strategy is media, include stakeholders from local radio stations, billboard companies. Ultimately, though, no matter who ends up on the committee and what plan they devise, you’re going to need a strong census staff to execute that plan.