At its core, the 2020 census is simply a count of everyone living in the United States. But it’s how this data is used that has so many community leaders encouraging everyone to stand up and be counted. The population data obtained through the census helps determine how much, and where, tax dollars are distributed across the U.S.

In short, by counting everyone living in New Mexico, we bring critical federal dollars into each and every community across the state. Resources for things our families depend on, like firefighters, teachers, nurses and child care workers — all of whom depend on federal funding determined by the census.

Unfortunately, with only a few days left in the once-in-a-decade effort, New Mexico is in danger of losing billions of dollars. A mere 1 percent undercount would result in an estimated loss of $780 million. Currently, New Mexico is near a 10 percent undercount.

We’re close to 100 percent, but this is a case where close will not be good enough.

For perspective, every person not counted in the census is equivalent to being offered a $10 bill every day for 10 years and not accepting it. Instead, those dollars will flow to other states with higher response rates, such as Colorado, Arizona or Texas.

While New Mexico’s philanthropic sector is robust, it won’t be able to fix the economic impact that New Mexico would see from such an undercount. The funding gap would be just too large to fill.

For the past two years, NM Counts 2020 has raised and distributed over $1.2 million to support a complete count, including $731,500 in grants to nonprofits and tribal governments to support census outreach in New Mexico’s hardest-to-count communities.

Despite severe challenges brought about by COVID-19, organizations have used those funds to connect with the communities and people they know best through phone banking, literature drops, newspaper and radio campaigns, and many other tactics.

Now, on behalf of the 23 philanthropic organizations that fund NM Counts 2020 and the dozens of nonprofits we support, we are asking for your support with two simple requests — complete your census and then call or text friends and family to make sure they complete theirs, too.

The census is our once-a-decade opportunity to make a difference in New Mexico, and it will take a combined effort from all of us to ensure our future is funded and supported for the next 10 years. New Mexico deserves to be counted.

To complete your census, visit 2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020 (English) or 844-468-2020 (Spanish) today. We only have until Sept. 30 to stand up and be counted.

Allen Oliver is executive director of the Thornburg Foundation and Dolores E. Roybal, Con Alma Health Foundation. Also contributing to this article are Sue Coliton, interim president and CEO, Santa Fe Community Foundation; and Carla Romero, interim executive director, McCune Charitable Foundation. These organizations are participants in NM Counts 2020, an initiative of 23 philanthropic organizations supporting a complete count in the 2020 census.

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