$1,000 Seamless gift card giveaways latest effort to boost NYC Census participation

A take-out bag waits on the reception desk at the offices of Seamless in New York
A take-out bag waits on the reception desk at the offices of Seamless in New York January 10, 2012. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

From ad campaigns featuring Cardi B and Alicia Keys, to a phone call contest with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, the NYC Census 2020 campaign is doing everything it can to ensure New Yorkers participate in the national population count.

Yet only half of all New Yorkers have filled out the 2020 Census form, running about 10% behind the rest of the country at this point. Now, the NYC Census 2020 campaign is turning to a cash giveaway to entice all residents to complete the 2020 Census.

NYC Census 2020 announced Tuesday a new contest in partnership with food delivery app Seamless in which 10 New Yorkers who complete the 2020 Census will each receive $1,000 gift cards to shop at local restaurants.

Julie Menin, director of NYC Census 2020, expects the contest to help “boost our numbers an dprovide a helpful incentive, particularly during these difficult times, to New Yorkers for completing the Census.”

“While New York City remains the greatest city on Earth, we’re going to need all the help we can get to recover from the devastation COVID-19 has wrought, and that means doing everything we can to achieve a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census,” Menin said.

Through May 26, New York City had a self-response rate of 50.1%, 10 points behind the nationwide rate of 60.1%. The 2010 Census saw 62% of all New Yorkers complete the survey, as opposed to the 76% nationwide average.

Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, NYC Census 2020 reported, the city is currently running ahead of the 2010 Census in terms of participation. The campaign, however, maintains that it needs every New Yorker to complete the 2020 Census to ensure the city receives not only proper representation on Capitol Hill, but also adequate resources from the federal government over the next decade.

The Seamless 2020 Census gift card contest is open only to New Yorkers over the age of 18 who have not yet completed the 2020 Census. To enter, they must complete the Census online, and take a screenshot or photo of the confirmation page. They can upload the screenshot to nyc.gov/censuscontest, complete an entry form and provide a few remarks on what completing the Census means to them.

One winner of a $1,000 Seamless gift card will be selected every week over the next 10 weeks. Only one entry is needed to be eligible each week, so the earlier you enter, the more chances you have to win.

“Seamless has been in New Yorkers’ lives for more than 20 years, so we’ve had the opportunity to watch New York City grow and change over time,” said Padma Rao, vice president of special projects for Grubhub, the parent company of Seamless. “We’re excited to give back to a city we know and love by partnering with NYC Census 2020, helping drive respondents for an incredibly important effort.”

Grubhub and other food delivery apps, such as Uber Eats and Doordash, have come under fire during the pandemic for the commissions charged to local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, the City Council passed legislation capping the commissions, which aims to put more money in the small businesses’ pockets. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law Tuesday.

As for the Census, completing it takes only 10 minutes of your time online. You can fill it out at my2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020. New Yorkers can also complete the form through 15 different language lines; learn more at nyc.gov/census