As a very young, green reporter at The Washington Post, I was tapped — several times — to be a “key man” for the annual United Givers Fund campaign. That’s the private-sector equivalent of the Combined Federal Campaign. It was an awful job, in some respects. I had to go around to each reporter and ask him or her to pledge.
Many of them wanted tons of information, including the administrative fees of each charity. There was also some interdepartmental rivalry, hence pressure on we key men and women to get people to put something in the pot. One editor wrote a check for $500, a fortune back then, but said if I included his name with the other givers he would have my hide. He wanted to help out, but didn’t want to be a statistic. Like I said, it was not my favorite assignment. But we did some good.
The 2016 CFC campaign ends this month. As of last week, 50,265 feds in the metro Washington area have pledged $34 million. That means that 327,080 have not. And the goal for this year is $47 million. The clock is ticking. Dec. 31 is just down the road.
Health insurance premiums go up each year. After three years without any pay raise, workers got 1 percent in 2014, 1 percent in 2015 and another 1 percent last January. Their 2017 increase will be slightly better. But for many people, their actual take-home pay has dropped. Even so, more than 50,000 have given. Feds in other CFC metro areas are showing their generosity, as per usual. But the D.C. metro area is the big kid on the block. I know all this because a latter-day key man/person told me. She’s Angela Blair and she’s with the Homeland Security Department. She asked Federal News Radio to help out in the closing days of the campaign. She’s got everything going for her — a mission, a goal, plus she did all the work and sent me this:
“Mike: You have the bully pulpit for feds, especially in the “DMV.” I’m appealing to you to use a little corner of your next Federal Report to help promote a final surge for the Combined Federal Campaign.
“I’m the campaign manager for the Science & Technology Directorate, a small (350-ish employees) in the Department of Homeland Security. My wonderful colleagues at S&T blew past our goal weeks ago, and are now taking aim at 150 percent of our original goal. Even if every single one of our federal employees gave the average donation (a thousand bucks, give or take), we’d only raise $300,000 of the current $14 million shortfall for the entire national capital area campaign.
“Over 328,000 capital area feds have not yet made a pledge to the CFC. If every one of them gave just $43 it would blow the goal out of the water. We only need 14,000 ‘average’ donations of about $1,000 to reach the goal. That is less than $40 a pay period, or about the cost of a cup of 7-Eleven coffee every day.
“I know a lot of federal employees are unhappy with their bosses, hate their commutes or have a gazillion other reasons to shun the campaign, thinking they are ‘getting even’ and ‘showing them.’ Sadly, falling millions of dollars short of the goal won’t even flicker an eyelash of the most heinous senior executive. It hurts millions of ordinary people who, because of disaster, illness, job losses or personal catastrophe need help beyond that which their families or friends can give. Maybe they don’t even have family or friends, or are homeless and lost. Many are veterans suffering mental disease. Innocent animals starve, are euthanized or languish in shelters if our donations fall short. Babies die for lack of prenatal care. Diseases spread for lack of community free clinics. The list is long and disheartening.
“Mike, if you could put this message (or something like it) in your column before the campaign closes on Dec. 31, that would be the only Christmas gift I could desire.” — A. B.
Angela, you had me at “bully pulpit.”
The CFC has lots of charities to choose from. If you haven’t pledged, think about it. You’d make an old key man happy.
Find out more information about the Combined Federal Campaign here.