OC Counts:

A Recap of the Orange County 2020 Census Campaign and Recommendations for 2030

Every decade for most of this nation’s history, the Census has been used to allocate federal funding, determine political balance, and spur economic development in local communities. An accurate, valid and reliable Census is central to the fair governance of our nation. The 2020 Census was unprecedented in the challenges it faced, from inadequate funding at the federal level to launching at the same time that COVID-19 was named a global pandemic to political suppression of an accurate count.

Early on during the Census campaign, Charitable Ventures was named the State-contracted Regional Administrative Community-Based Organization (ACBO) for Orange County. As Regional ACBO, Charitable Ventures facilitated Census education and outreach for Orange County’s nonprofit sector, administered the $2.9M public contract, and also housed the $1.02M private OC Census Fund.

In 2020, Orange County actors from all sectors pulled together to achieve a 76.6% Self-Response Rate, well above the 2010 Self-Response Rate of 71.7%. It was truly an all-hands-on-deck moment for Orange County.

After the Census closed on October 15, 2020, Charitable Ventures, with support from the Orange County Community Foundation, created this Playbook to help local leaders learn from a county-wide collaborative effort and better prepare for the next decennial Census.

This “OC Counts” Playbook is both a final report – an audit, of sorts – on the 2020 Census campaign in Orange County and a guide for 2030. Those who wrote and contributed to this report want it to be a helpful starting point and planning document as our region gears up for the 2030 Census. It is never too early to start planning for the next decennial Census; in fact, the earlier that conversations and coordination can begin, the stronger our results and response rates will be. Through this Playbook, we also want to honor and capture the effort of 400+ organizations who came together to build the regional Census infrastructure.

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This Playbook covers:

A comprehensive recap of 2020 Census education and outreach efforts

Lessons learned during the 2020 campaign

Recommendations for the 2030 count