Federal Campaign Brings Giving Home

Posted October 17, 2003 at 2:49pm

The season of giving has arrived.

And with the recent kickoff of this year’s Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area, some federal employees on Capitol Hill are getting a taste of what donating in the fundraising drive could look like in the future.

Representatives, Senators and their staffers are participating in a pilot program that allows them to designate all or part of their pledge to a recipient that operates in their home state.

The CFC of the National Capital Area has raised millions of dollars for various charities such as the Girl Scouts and American Youth Hostels. Federal employees organize and promote the campaign, which runs from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. To donate, employees have traditionally filled out a pledge card distributed in their offices on which they pick charities and how much they want to donate. Each charity has a number, and the agencies often advertise their CFC numbers to create awareness.

The online program is one of few changes that were made by the new management of the annual fundraising drive among the 300,000 federal employees, which raised $47 million last year and has a goal of $50 million this year. [IMGCAP(1)]

“I’m confident we can reach the goal,” said Albert Brill, executive director of CFC for National Capital Area.

“There’s a lot of electricity and enthusiasm and good will. I’m upbeat about it.”

Part of that electricity may be attributed to Global Impact, a nonprofit Alexandria, Va., group that took the reins of the campaign from the area United Way, which ran the local effort for more than 25 years.

Through the online giving program and other changes, Global Impact hopes to boost its 40 percent contribution rate of last year.

With average contribution in the national capital area almost $120 above the national average, this may seem like an easy task.

But those numbers may be deceiving.

“Fewer people are giving larger gifts,” said Anthony De Cristofaro, special assistant to the president of Global Impact. “People are showing tremendous generosity, but we want to get more people involved. We want to increase the participation and increase the average gift.”

With the online giving pilot program, which debuted in Congress, the U.S. Postal Service Headquarters and some agencies in the Agriculture and Justice departments, increased participation may soon become a reality.

Employees are able to log on, browse through descriptions of the more than 3,000 participating charities, and designate how much money they wish to donate online. They are then able to print out the form and hand it to their CFC representative.

“Build it, and they’ll give,” De Cristofaro said. “We want to reach everyone with the information they need to decide whether they want to participate in the CFC.”

The added special designation feature in Congress broadens the choices for charities even more.

“Most people who work in Washington aren’t really from Washington,” De Cristofaro said. “Many have strong ties to their home districts and home states.”