With donations rebounding during pandemic, CFC ready to build on last year’s successes

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The Combined Federal Campaign — now celebrating its 60th anniversary — is hoping it can build on last year’s successes with another all-virtual giving drive.

Federal employees and retirees in the national capital area raised $37.2 million during last year’s campaign, far exceeding the region’s $30 million goal, said Vince Micone, co-chairman of the CFC local federal coordinating committee for the Washington area.

Employees also contributed more than 48,000 volunteer hours in 2020.

“We set our goal pretty low,” Micone said in an interview. “Frankly, we heard of many families where there were maybe two people who were employed, maybe one for the federal government, one for private sector. Folks lost jobs, families were disrupted and we just didn’t know how things were going to really roll out. We were blown away by the generosity of federal employees.”

Donations in 2020 also outpaced giving from recent years, which had been falling steadily in the national capital region. Between 2009 and 2012, Washington-area employees routinely contributed about $60 million a year to the campaign. But contributions have fallen since the 2013 government shutdown and sequestration, and in 2019, federal employees in the region donated $34.2 million.

But more federal employees donated in 2020, and the size of their donations increased as well, Micone said. The campaign also saw an increase in first-time donors; Micone said the committee is still parsing through the exact data.

“It is truly a testament to your sense of purpose that you did this at a time when so many of you were experiencing your own hardships due to the pandemic, but that is who you are,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a brief message during Wednesday’s virtual CFC kickoff event for the national capital region. “As federal workers you have dedicated yourselves to careers of service. You make a habit of going above and beyond, and I know this year will be no different.”

Micone said the national capital region wants to meet or exceed the $37.2 million employees raised last year.

“That’s going to be a heavy lift, but I am confident that we can get there,” he said.

Messages from the vice president provide inspiration, Micone said; words of encouragement from honorary chairmen Kiran Ahuja, the OPM director, and Deb Haaland, the Interior secretary, help too.

During past campaigns, volunteers organized bake sales and chili cookoffs to drum up excitement — and solicit physical dollars — from employees at the office.

That all changed last year. Employees held virtual bingo games and talent shows. Micone said he attended a virtual chili cookoff where employees made and shared recipes from home.

The CFC went cash-less well before the pandemic. But Micone said the pandemic inspired the beginning of a true transformation of the campaign.

This year and next year are those change years,” he said. “With respect to CFC and frankly a whole lot of other federal benefits programs, I don’t see the need for paper if we can avoid it.”

“Yes, we used to collect dollars at events and that was a way to encourage people to give, but the whole world has changed,” he added. “Everyone has fundraisers on social media. Everyone now uses their phone to do that giving. Frankly I look at it as the time for CFC to catch up to what everyone else is doing. We’re taking advantage of that. You’re going to see this year and next year even greater changes as we improve our ability to deliver to employees wherever they live and work.”

The CFC made annual training for agency volunteers online and on demand this year, which Micone said employees can access at a time that’s convenient for them based on their work schedules and demands at home.

To commemorate the campaign’s 60th anniversary, the CFC is asking employees to consider making two donations, one through payroll deduction and another one-time gift of $60 to their favorite charity.

The CFC has a new theme this year, “be the face of change,” a concept the campaign said easily complements the role federal employees already play through their everyday work as public servants.

During Wednesday’s kickoff event, the campaign’s organizers reminded employees of the hardships many people continue to face due to the pandemic and recent hurricanes and storms.

“People in need around the corner and around the globe are relying on our support now more than ever,” Ahuja, the campaign’s honorary co-chairman, said Wednesday. “You can make a difference to the charities and causes that are closest to your heart.”

Employees can make a one-time donation or contribute through payroll deduction online. Retirees can also donate through the CFC. The campaign runs through Jan. 15.

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