Census 2020

What is the Census?

The census is a part of democracy that matters to all Minnesotans. $15 billion allocated to Minnesota by U.S. census data is at stake. This critical funding supports vital programs like Medicaid, highway planning, and programs that aid low-income households, rural communities, and communities of color. Every person we count matters and contributes to our beautiful and vibrant community.

When does the Census Happen?

These are the key dates to keep in mind for the 2020 census. Make sure the communities you work with are informed about when they will receive their invitations, and that they have access to a device, or are aware of the phone and paper options they can use to respond to the census.  

  • March 12 - 20 – Census Bureau sends out invitations to respond to the census via mail (some households will receive a paper questionnaire).
  • March 16 - 24: Census Bureau sends out the first reminder letter.
  • March 26 - April 3: The second reminder letter will be sent out to households that have not yet responded to the census.
  • April 1: National Census Day! Save this date, attend a census day event in your area or organize one in your community.
  • April 8 - 16: Another reminder letter and a paper questionnaire will be sent out to households that have not responded.
  • April 20 - 27: Final reminder before the non-response follow up operation (NRFU). The operation is when a census enumerator knocks on the doors of household that have not responded to the census.

UPDATE: As of 9/29/20 it is unclear when Census operations will wrap up. Follow MCN on social media for updates.

As of April 13, the Census Bureau has announced changes to the operational timeline. Changes are as follows:

 Activity/Operation   Planned Schedule   Adjustment  Revised Schedule 
 Self-Response Phase (online, phone, mail)   March 12–July 31   Extended   March 12–October 31
 Mobile Questionnaire Assistance   March 30–July 31   Delayed   Needs further review and coordination with
 outside partners and stakeholders. 
 Nonresponse Followup (NRFU) and NRFU Reinterview   May 13–July 31   Delayed   August 11–October 31 
 Group Quarters Enumeration   April 2–June 5   Delayed   April 2–September 3  
 Service-Based Enumeration   March 30–April 1   Delayed   Needs further review and coordination with
 outside partners and stakeholders. 
 Census counts people experiencing homelessness outdoors   April 1   Delayed   Needs further review and coordination with
 outside partners and stakeholders.
 Enumeration of Transitory Locations   April 9–May 4   Delayed   Tentatively September 3 – September 28, but may
 need further review and coordination.
 Deliver apportionment counts to the President   By December 31   On schedule   By April 30, 2021 
 Deliver redistricting counts to states   By April 1, 2021   On schedule   By July 31, 2021 

The Census and Nonprofits

Nonprofits have a critical role to promote community participation and build power. The census is about equity and inclusion and making sure that there is fair political representation and distribution of resources. We are all stronger when our democracy is strong. We are all stronger when communities are using their voice and power to help shape and change the systems that impact them every day – especially communities that have been historically disenfranchised.

How can nonprofits get involved?

  • Develop an internal strategy to develop a culture of civic participation within your organization. Is there census material out for staff, board, and volunteers? Do you send an all-staff email linking them to information on how to fill out their census form? Do you remind your internal staff that filling out the census is important and that they should participate?
  • Plan your organization’s census outreach & mobilization campaign. Host fun, engaging, census education efforts. Be creative! Give people good information about why and how to respond to the census.
  • Take our nonprofit census pledge! By taking the pledge your organization acknowledges the importance of the census and is committed to doing at least one thing to mobilize Minnesota. Take MCN’s 2020 census mobilization pledge at http://bit.ly/MCNCensusPledge
  • Stay tuned to the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ work on the census. For more information contact MCN's public policy advocate, Ileana Mejia.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can you complete the census?

You can complete the census online at my2020census.gov, on the phone (844-330-2020), or respond by mail.

Most households received a census invitation in March that includes a 12-digit code unique to each address. Use this code to start completing your census. If a household has misplaced the 12-digit code they can still complete the census by selecting “I don’t have a 12-digit census code” on the online platform.

The census is available in 13 languages online and on the phone (find the different language phone lines on the census bureau website).

How long does it take to complete the census?

The census has 4 questions for the entire household and 6 question per person. On average the census takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

Do I need a Census ID to complete the census?

No, you do not need a census ID to complete the census. There is an “I don’t have a Census ID” option via the online form, you will have to provide your address instead.

What if someone is temporarily living somewhere else because of the COVID-19 crisis?

The general rule of thumb is to count a person where they sleep and eat 51% of the time.

What about college students who are temporarily home because of COVID-19?

College students who live on campus will be counted by their institution in the Group Quarters Enumeration process. Students who live outside of campus must fill out their own forms, and they are counted where they live 51% of the time.

How do people experiencing homelessness get counted?

The U.S. Census Bureau devotes three days to count people who are experiencing homelessness throughout the country. As of now, these days are April 29th-May 1st but it could change. The Bureau will follow three steps to make sure everyone is counted. They are:

  1. Counting people who are in shelters.
  2. Counting people at soup kitchens and mobile food vans.
  3. Counting people in non-sheltered, outdoor locations, such as tent encampments and on streets.

Why is there only two options under the question about sex?

There is only the option of male or female on the census form. We understand that this does not affirm the experiences of people who identify as trans and nonbinary or gender nonconforming. MCN hopes to continue advocating.

What happens if you don’t answer all of the questions on the census?

While you can submit a census form having not completed one or two of the prompts, we encourage everyone to fill out as many questions as they can as it may result in a follow up phone call or visit from a Census Enumerator.

Can a nonprofit worker help a person fill out their census?

Yes, you can help someone fill out their census as long as you disclose that you do not work for the U.S. Census Bureau, therefore the information they share with you is not protected under Title 13.

When is the deadline to complete the census?

May 7 is the day that early nonresponse follow up starts. Nonresponse follow up is the process of Census Bureau following up on the phone or by paying a visit to the house.

MCN Census Grants

Congratulations to 41 organizations across Minnesota who received one of MCN’s census grants for census mobilization:

Alliance of Chicanos Hispanics and Latin Americans
Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging
Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency
Asamblea de Derechos Civiles
Campus Compact
Centro Tyrone Guzman
Community Action of Ramsey and Washington Counties
Council on American-Islam Relations
Cultural Diversity Resources
Deaf Equity
Hallie Q. Brown
Hispanic Outreach of Goodhue County
Hmong Museum
Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association
Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners
Jordan Area Community Council
Korean Adoptee Ministries
Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota
Little Earth Residents Association
Living at Home Network
Marshall Area YMCA
Northside Economic Opportunity Network
Organization of Liberians - Minnesota
Our Savior's Community Services English Learning Center
Pelican Rapids Multicultural Committee
Pillsbury United Communities
Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota
Prairie Five Community Action Council
Project for Pride and Living
Promise Neighborhood of Central Minnesota
Rise, Inc
Senior Services Consortium of Ramsey County
Somali Community Resettlement Services
Southeast Asian Diaspora Project
Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota
Women for Political Change
Wright County Community Action

MCN is no longer accepting applications for census grants.  

Interested in doing census work but not sure what sort of funding is available? The State Demographics Center has a FAQ sheet that might help with your questions.