BRC Census is a collaborative research project that started in 2002 with the goal of learning more about the participants who make up Black Rock City. We conduct a random sample of Burners entering the event, then collect online survey responses after the Burn. We combine these two data sources to get more statistically accurate data about the people who attended Burning Man that year.
Explore the Data
How to Volunteer
We’re glad you’re interested in the Black Rock City Census! Each year the Census gathers data that serves a vital purpose for Burning Man, in addition to just being interesting to know. It’s an all-volunteer effort, and we would love to welcome you to our happy crew!
These are the steps involved in becoming a Census volunteer:
- If you do not already have a Burner Profile, create one by clicking here.
- Complete a Volunteer Questionnaire by clicking here. Be sure to indicate your interest in working with the Census.
- Once you are approved, you will receive a link to Shiftboard, where you can sign up for shifts. (Volunteer shifts for Burning Man are generally posted in July before the Burn, and everyone who’s been through steps 1-2 will receive an email when the schedule is posted.)
Volunteering with Census
Interactive Introduction (4 min., updated for 2019): A brief description of what the Census is, why we do it, and the various roles for volunteers. This is recommended for all volunteers and anyone just curious about the Census. (This interactive program is viewable on computers, phones, and tablets, but it works best on a screen larger than a cell phone.)
Random Samplers are stationed on Gate Road as Burners arrive to the playa. They collect basic demographic information from randomly selected participants. Good mobility, punctuality, enthusiasm, and communication skills are essential! Random Sampling training materials can be found in the links below; on-playa training is also mandatory for samplers.
Fun Interactors team up with Random Samplers to work the lanes of traffic ahead of the sampling point, getting participants excited about filling out the brief sampling form. Mobility, punctuality, and enthusiasm are all important traits! Fun Interactors should familiarize themselves with the Random Sampling training materials linked below. On-playa training is also a requirement for Fun Interactors.
Census Lab Hosts welcome visitors to the Census Lab (in Center Camp). They answer participants’ questions about the Census and invite them to participate in a variety of ways. Census Lab Hosts should review the training materials linked below, and will also have opportunities for on-playa training. Lab Hosts should review the training materials linked below for Random Sampling and Census Outreach Volunteers, so they can answer questions about our methodology in addition to understanding the tasks related to their job. Lab hosts may also wish to review the Data Archive and/or Census portal in the Burning Man Journal (linked above) so they can share interesting data points with participants who stop by Census Lab.
Data Entry volunteers assist on-playa, entering the data collected during random sampling shifts. This role calls for quick and accurate typists with good attention to detail! Data Entry volunteers are trained at the beginning of each shift, but we also recommend reviewing the Random Sampling training materials linked below so these volunteers are familiar with how our methodology determines the data they will be entering.
Data Disseminators assist with on-playa outreach, distributing our preliminary report out to major areas within BRC and encouraging participants to fill out the online survey at the end of the event. These volunteers must be friendly, mobile, clear communicators. Data Disseminators should review the training materials linked below for Random Sampling and Census Outreach Volunteers, so they can answer questions about our methodology as needed. Data Disseminators will also receive training at the beginning of each shift.
A core team of dedicated Census volunteers works year-round to help with data analysis and visualization, blog post writing and editing, pre-Burn planning, and other tasks. If these sound like good fits for you or if you would like to make an impact some other way, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how you want to participate!
Training Materials (updated for 2019!)
Please review the role descriptions above for information about which training materials should be reviewed by volunteers signed up for each role. Each interactive training is accompanied by a PDF, links are below.
- Interactive Random Sampling Training (20 min.): recommended for all Random Samplers and Fun Interactors. This interactive website describes a Random Sample shift, tells you how to prepare for your shift, explains the methods we use, and gives you the opportunity to practice some critical skills.
- Interactive Lab Host Training (10 min.): recommended for all Lab Hosts. This interactive website tells you how to prepare for your Lab Host shift, including frequently asked questions, a map of Census Lab, and other useful information.
Technical Note: All eLearning programs are HTML5 compatible. They are viewable on computers, phones, and tablets, but they work best on a screen larger than a cell phone.
Written Volunteer Guides
We have several Volunteer Guides available in PDF form:
- Random Sampling Guide (PDF): required reference for all Random Samplers, Fun Interactors, and Sampling Shift Leads.
- Outreach Volunteer Guide (PDF): required reference for all Census Lab Hosts and Data Disseminators.
- Census Lab Tablet Guide (PDF): recommended for all Shift Leads, required for all Census Lab Hosts.
Veteran volunteers assisting as Sampling Shift Leads or Data Entry Shift Leads should also review the Census Leadership Resources page for additional training materials.