By Sue Bury, Charity Chat Correspondent

The U.S. 2020 Census has undergone lawsuits, court decisions, and house-to-house visits under the coronavirus shadow. When the results become available next spring, how will they affect charities? Here’s a sampling of local organizations.

Federal funding streams to states are based on state population numbers, which are determined by the census, so the census results have a big impact on federally funded services in each state. Here in Montana, that includes our own Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, which provides immediate and ongoing support to some 200 domestic violence survivors each year in Carbon and Stillwater counties. In addition to private grants and the generous support of individual donors, DSVS receives grants directly from the federal government as well as federal funds that pass through the state.

Asked about census impacts, Mountain Bluebells Preschool and Boys & Girls Club of Carbon County report that while the data do not affect their operations, they could be indirectly affected if grant programs change because of census findings.

BareTooth Cupboards “does not expect to see any significant impact from the census results,” Kathy Sommerfeld, President, wrote in response to our inquiry. BareTooth does not receive federal or state funding. “It is possible that we may see some increased need through the trickledown effects if benefits such as SNAP and WIC are reduced.” (Those are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program.) But she adds, BareTooth will be up to the task with the continued generosity of our community.

The Beartooth Billings Clinic Foundation assists with buying equipment and other needs when our hospital’s financial requirements are not met through normal operations. The census results are not likely to affect any of the grants the Foundation receives. “But it’s about having another seat at the policy table,” says Linda Harris, Director of Foundation and Finance. That is, should the population count result in Montana getting another seat in the U.S. House, there would be “one more voice advocating for rural health and that could have a huge impact.”

For the Carbon County Resource Council, a second Montana seat in the U.S. House would mean another vote on public land management legislation. An inaccurate census tally could cause inaccurate parceling of public land management funds, important because of the amount of public land in our county. Either development would have implications for the Council’s work on a range of issues that affect resource use and quality of life.

Friends of the Library is the charity supporting our Red Lodge Carnegie Library and helps in several ways, including providing funds for needs not covered in the library’s budget (this year, the Friends are purchasing furniture). The library itself uses census data to set programming priorities if, for example, there is an increase in the number of young children or elders. Census data determine the service area population, which is the basis for state aid and allocation of the library mill levy among the county’s three public libraries. Federally funded programs help make library materials more widely accessible.

The Red Lodge Fire Rescue Foundation supports the members of Red Lodge Fire Rescue, which encompasses fire, emergency medical, community care, and search and rescue divisions and the dedicated people who carry out these services. The Foundation itself has minimal direct use for census data, but findings on how many people live here, where they live, and demographic details can help RLFR anticipate emergencies and plan for staffing, equipment, transportation, and volunteer needs. The Foundation supports readiness by augmenting recruitment and retention, training, equipment, and providing other aid to service members.

While the 2020 Census results will have varying degrees of impact on charities, our local groups will need your ongoing support to ensure that their services remain available to our community.