Federal employees crushed the goals for the combined federal campaign this year

The holiday season is just a memory now as winter settles in, also in the rear view mirror is the Combined Federal Campaign. Turns out for the National Capital ...

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The holiday season is just a memory now as winter settles in, also in the rear view mirror is the Combined Federal Campaign. Turns out for the National Capital Region, federal employees crushed it with donations exceeding the goal. For details, the Federal Drive with Tom Temin spoke to the CFC National Capital Region chairman, Vince Micone.

Interview transcript:

Tom Temin:  Vince, good to have you back.

Vince Micone: Tom, thanks for having me back to talk about how we did this year, which was it was very strong, we’re very pleased.

Tom Temin: So give us some of the specifics. What was the goal? How much have we raised so far?

Vince Micone: So we set a goal local, it was $35 million, because we really didn’t know how the year was going to roll out for everybody with the pandemic impacting folks. And, but we did set more of aggressive goal with our board of directors, we hope to meet or exceed what we did the prior year. And we did that in 2020, we raised $37.2 million. This year, we raised $37.3 million. So it was a slight increase, not a huge increase, we think that may get a little bit higher, maybe get closer to 37.4. But we did better than the year before, which was exceptional and during the pandemic period, we’ve increased contributions through the CFC to charities by 9% in the last two years, which is pretty impressive, given the impacts that it’s had on everybody.

Tom Temin: Well, maybe it’s that federal employees didn’t get laid off, like those in other industries and other domains. And it sounds like federal employees felt they could dig deep to give because they do have assured jobs.

Vince Micone: You know, one thing with federal employees, whenever these issues hit these, you know, impacts hit, disasters hit, we dig as deep as we can, because we’ve got brothers and sisters who are federal employees all around the country, and they’re impacted. And we understand that we’re helping them and we’re helping their neighbors when we when we contribute through the CFC when we volunteer, and frankly, you know, many, many employees are on the frontline. So they see every day the impact of how a charity helps.

Tom Temin: Now, fundraising is a heartfelt type of function, whether you are giving or whether you are soliciting gives, but there is also some data behind manner in which people give channels by which they choose to give. And so you can get pretty scientific about it. I mean, there are people that specialize, I know you’ve got a day job at a federal agency. But what is the data telling you about the manner in which people gave the channels they chose to give through online cash, payroll deduction, that kind of thing?

Vince Micone: When I started doing this 10- 15 years ago, and I’ve been engaged with CFC for a long time, there weren’t as many ways to give directly to organizations, obviously, we all remember, we used to get, you know, direct mail solicitations, particularly around the holiday season from organizations that we may have given to before others who bought our names. Well, really, what’s changed. The framework for us is social media. So between social media and the opportunity for charities to reach donors directly through email, and electronic means, which are a lot cheaper, we’ve got competition. So we saw as some of these medias were really coming to bear. And frankly, you know, everyone on Facebook, you’ll see people are doing fundraisers for birthdays and everything. That’s our competition. And we take that very seriously. And so we’ve upped our game, and how we reach employees, not just through traditional methods, like an email that comes to an agency, but talking about the stories of federal employees making a difference on social media, on Instagram, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, getting the stories out and encouraging people to give in encouraging people to tell their stories as well. And that’s been very effective for us.

Tom Temin: Because in some ways, you are competing with charities that have television budgets, and you see all these sob stories around Christmas time, from various charities around the world even so, the competitive field is pretty broad, isn’t it?

Vince Micone: It is and that’s not going to change. But I will tell you one thing that was really cool. And I think I mentioned this last time we chatted: our Giving Tuesday so that the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been set aside, as the day to think about giving a charitable giving and making a gift to your community in the holiday spirit. We raised over $2.35 million that day, which was a record and we had 2,000 volunteers’ hours pledged in that day. So that’s one of those times where we rode on something else that was going on, and made a big deal about it with federal employees, and then agencies and on social media. And it turned out I mean, we were we were absolutely thrilled at the contributions that we received on that one day. And the last two days of the campaign, we raised $4 million. And that was in January. So that’s people who are giving not because of tax purposes, but they’re giving because they want to give through the Combined Federal Campaign and that you know, that $4 million is 10% of what we’re bringing more than 10% of what we raised. So it really does show that there is interest in people are doing this because they care.

Tom Temin: We’re speaking with Vince Micone, chairman of the National Capital Region Coordinating Committee for the Combined Federal Campaign. And what statistics do you have on numbers of people actually giving? You know, there’s a theory that the best campaigns have the broadest base of giving, even if it’s $5, versus the million dollar people.

Vince Micone: So our average gift is $800 in the National Capital Area. We need to take a look at how that compares to other workplace giving campaigns, which we would benchmark up, frankly, to see how we compare in the National Capital Area to the rest of the nation in terms of that average gift. I think we would probably skew a little bit high on there compared to others in the average gift. And certainly, our campaign is certainly compressed. But one thing we’re going to be doing this month is also taking a look at what national giving rates were overall and see how we compare to those, see if there’s any lessons we can learn.

I’ll tell you one area where we saw depth just like everyone else was in volunteer hours. A couple years ago, we were we were having federal employees mark about 70,000 volunteer hours that they would contribute through the campaign. Right now we’re down at about 48,000 hours. So we are now maybe a little bit more than that. But we’re down. A lot of that, of course, is due to pandemic and the fact that we can’t do those in-person volunteer activities that we used to or do them in the same way. So we’re hoping to find better ways and different ways to talk about how employees can not just get dollars, but give their time and talent as well, this year. We’ve got a little bit more to learn in that area. But I’ll tell you what, if you combine the volunteer hours that were contributed and the dollars, we’re close to $39 million in contributions with this campaign info if you monetize those volunteer hours.

Tom Temin: An $800 average gift seems high to me. That seems like a pretty good darn Christmas donation to make.

Vince Micone: It is. And that’s the power of getting through payroll deductions. So you’re given, you know, maybe $10 or $15, a pay period or $20, a pay period. And that all adds up. And that’s what makes a difference to charities. And that’s why they liked the campaign.

Tom Temin: And do we have any sense of how many federal employees, say if there’s 300,000, in the National Capital Region roughly did 299,000 of them give or do you track that number?

Vince Micone: We do track that number. We don’t have it for this year. And Tom, I’d have to look it up even for last year to see how our participation rate was. Participation rate, frankly, to be very honest with you is more important of a factor to me, than those eight or $900 gifts, because I understand if someone is new to the federal government, they start giving $5, they’ll grow in the ability with pay and through time to give much more. So we are focusing on new donors through the campaign. Younger employees in the federal government who may not have the time that, you know, people like I’ve had, as federal employees and sort of built that tradition, we’re trying to continue the tradition of the campaign. Which given that this is the 60th anniversary of CFC, President Kennedy authorized it in 1961, we looked at this as an opportunity to do some fun things, and really to continue those traditions with federal employees.

Tom Temin: Now will you chair the National Capital Region again next year for 2022?

Vince Micone: I will. I hope if the board reelects, both myself and my co-chair we’ll continue to lead. But there are fantastic people on our board of directors from a variety of agencies. And any person on that board is committed, concerned and wants to make a difference. And for the first time we have retirees on the board, as well, to help us do outreach to retirees who live in this area.

Tom Temin: And it takes real time. It’s not just a ceremonial type of job is it?

Vince Micone: It takes a lot of time. Yesterday, I spent a couple hours emailing charities to encourage them to apply to the campaign this year so that we can get even more charities participating locally.

Tom Temin: And by the way, is there anything that an individual charity can do to get its contributions up?

Vince Micone: Time is perfect. First of all, they need to be in the campaign. So you got to be in there to play,and the application process goes until Feb. 28. I think there’s an early bird discount for charities that apply by Jan. 31. It’s easy. Charities need to go to givecfc.org and they can follow along all the guidance and information so that they can get registered for the 2022 campaign.

Tom Temin: Vince Micone is chairman of the National Capital Region Coordinating Committee of the Combined Federal Campaign. Thanks so much.

Vince Micone: Thank you so very much.

Tom Temin: And good luck in the year ahead.

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