The census has always been the bedrock of our democracy. However, unlike any time in this country’s history, this bedrock is at risk. The odds are stacked against a successful census. It’s going to be largely online for the first time ever, it’s been severely underfunded, and in an effort to intimidate immigrants, the federal government has added a citizenship question for the first time in more than 50 years.
In the philanthropic sector, we often get lost in the latest buzzwords about how to rethink our strategies and maximize impact, individually and collectively. Over the last couple of years, the buzzword of the moment has been collaboration and building collaboratives – a collective on organizations or individuals that work together to create something stronger than what they could produce alone.
Admittedly, as grantmakers, we like to fund projects where we can anticipate long-range payoffs, systemic change, and solving problems at the root rather than placing bandages. And detailed analysis and research have their place in evaluating grant requests both large and small.
My early career as a nonprofit development professional included some fairly unforgettable moments. One such moment included downloading the interim report for a particularly generous funder of my nonprofit organization. The printer jumped to life, spitting out page after page – in all, the report contained 8 pages, 12 point font, of questions.