A quickstart guide to tailoring census outreach efforts for the people they serve

Census Community Outreach Toolkit

What was the challenge?

This toolkit outlines four barriers that the Census Bureau and external research have identified as particularly common reasons for not completing the census. High-quality census data is valuable because you want to ensure that people are accurately counted so they get their fair share of funding and representation for the next decade.


What did we do?

In 2017, we developed the Community Outreach Toolkit for the office of the Chief Innovation Officer and the National Partnerships program at the U.S. Census Bureau in an effort to summarize behavioral insights that could be applied by Census partners in communications and outreach efforts surrounding the 2020 Decennial. It provides useful tips and evidence-based guidance on how to make your communications and outreach efforts as effective as possible that include:

  • Make it actionable - reducing friction in the path towards action is critical, and sometimes the smallest tweaks can have a significant impact.
  • Make it relevant - position your message to work for the audience you hope to engage, accounting for what’s important to them and what motivates them
  • Plan the delivery - meet people where they’re at, the packaging of your message matters

What did we learn?

Four barriers are identified in this toolkit through the following personas:

  • “I don’t think the census has any impact on my life.” This person isn’t sure what the census does, how its data affects them, and why their participation matters.
  • “I don’t feel comfortable sharing my information.” This person is concerned about data privacy or having their information used by other federal agencies.
  • “I have trouble completing census forms.” This person may not be a native English speaker and finds census forms confusing.
  • “I don’t have time to fill out the census.” This person is very busy and assumes the census will be time-consuming and cumbersome.

Census Community Outreach Toolkit







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