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

Check out our portal in the Burning Man Journal or take a look at the Census Results Archive.

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:

  1. If you do not already have a Burner Profile, create one by clicking here.
  2. Complete a Volunteer Questionnaire by clicking here.  Be sure to indicate your interest in working with the Census.
  3. Once you are approved, you will receive a link to Shiftboard, where you can sign up for shifts once they are posted.


Volunteering with Census

Interactive Introduction (4 min., updated for 2016): 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.)

Volunteer Roles

Random Samplers are stationed near the Gate as Burners arrive to the playa to 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, and 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 as well as for Lab Hosts, 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 during their first shift, but we also recommend reviewing the Random Sampling training materials linked below so they are familiar with how our methodology defines 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, so they can answer questions about our methodology as needed. On-playa training may also be provided this role.

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 census@burningman.org and let us know how you want to participate!

Training Materials

Please note: the materials linked below are the 2016 training documents; some details may be out of date. Check back later for training materials for 2017 volunteers.

Please review the role descriptions above for information about which training materials should be reviewed for volunteers signed up for each role. Each interactive training is accompanied by a PDF, links are below.

Interactive Training

  • Interactive Random Sample Training (20 min.): 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. This is recommended for all Random Samplers and Fun Interactors.
  • Interactive Lab Host Training (10 min.): Tells you how to prepare for your Lab Host shift, including frequently asked questions, a map of Census Lab, and other useful information. This is recommended for all Lab Hosts.

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

Please note: the documents linked below are the 2016 training documents; some details may be out of date. Check back later for training materials for 2017 volunteers.

We have two Volunteer Guides available in PDF form:

  • Random Sampling Guide (PDF): additional reference for all Random Samplers, Fun Interactors, and Sampling Shift Leads.
  • Lab Host Guide (PDF): additional reference for all Census Lab Hosts.

Veteran volunteers assisting as Sampling Shift Leads or Data Entry Shift Leads will be contacted via email with links to additional training materials.