Last fall’s CFC campaign was a mixed bag. Overall giving was $70.6 million, a decrease of 9.5%, the first significant decline since 2019. Overall charitable giving also declined in 2022, but by much less, just 3.4% (both percentages are before inflation).
But the DC CFC campaign went up 9.6%. It raised nearly $3 million more in 2022. The number of DC-area CFC donors also went up by about 3%. This increase in donors is big news. The overall number of CFC donors has plummeted more than 80% since the CFC’s big changes in 2017.
Fortunately, the remaining donors make very large gifts: an average of $874 last fall. In DC, the average gift was even larger: $1,122. These large donations show the value of payroll deduction: people give more when they can have a little deducted from each paycheck.
Since the 2017 changes in how the CFC is run, the DC-area CFC has increased its share of overall CFC gifts, from 28.8% in 2016 to 46.6% in 2022. This article explains at least two of the reasons why this has happened.
What factors impacted the 2022 CFC?
Every year there are factors that impact which charities do better in the CFC. After the 2016 election, for example, much more money flowed to charities defending civil rights, such as the ACLU Foundation and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. During the pandemic, local food banks did extremely well.
Last year, two events influenced the CFC: the war in Ukraine and Hurricane Irma, which occurred as the CFC was starting. One charity seemed to benefit from both tragedies, World Central Kitchen. It had one of the most dramatic increases we’ve seen, raising an additional $250,000, an 83% increase. Its rank among all national and international CFC charities shot up from #20 to #9.
Another example of the Ukraine war’s impact on the CFC is a relatively new charity, United Help Ukraine. In 2021, it wasn’t in the CFC. In 2022, it raised more than $215,000. Its rank among CFC charities was #29. Last fall, when CFC donors searched on “Ukraine” on the CFC website, this charity was one of only a handful that came up.
Surprisingly, Irma didn’t seem to have a big impact on the Red Cross, long one of the top CFC recipients. Last fall it raised about $90,000 less than in 2021, an average decline, given the 9.5% drop in CFC giving.
The impact of the war and the hurricane can be seen on other charities, especially international charities that work in other parts of the world. Most of them went down, both in the amount they raised and in their rank. Heifer International, for example, dropped from #34 in 2021 to #39 in 2022. Lutheran World Relief went from #53 to #66; Voice of the Martyrs went from #43 to #53. Global Impact, the CFC federation that represents many international charities, went down 15.8%.
Interestingly, the Supreme Court’s abortion decision didn’t seem to have a huge impact. The National Abortion Fund went up a lot, from #261 to #104. But this increase only amounted to about $33,000 more in dollars. Planned Parenthood and the NARAL Foundation stayed about the same, though with the CFC’s 9.5% decline, that means they did better than most CFC charities. In contrast, Catholics United for Life went down 28%, falling from #268 to #296.
Nearly every environmental group went down, about in keeping with the overall 9.6% decline. Earthshare, the federation for many CFC environmental charities, was down 8%. Several civil and human rights charities went down significantly. The ACLU went from #9 to #14. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund dropped from #31 to #38. Most health and medical research charities also went down, though not dramatically.
The importance of placement in the CFC
As always, the other big factor impacting how individual CFC charities do is placement in the list of CFC charities. Every year placement changes. A charity can go from being at the top of the list of the 5,000+ CFC charities in one year to near the bottom the next year.
In the past, placement was called “Print Order” and it determined where a charity would be in the CFC’s printed charity “catalogs.” But these catalogs are no longer printed. Today, placement impacts searches on the CFC’s website, through which 95% of CFC donations are made. This can make a huge difference for individual charities. A charity can go from near the top of a search on, say, “cancer,” one year to not appearing on the first page of search listings the next year.
Placement is complicated. It depends in part on a lottery held each year among CFC federations. In addition, the order of the three broad types of CFC charities changes each year: Local, National and International. This coming fall, for example, local charities will be first. Last fall, they were last. When local charities are first, many national health charities do worse, because they come up after local charities working on the same health issue, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
We’ll be doing an article this summer explaining how the CFC prioritizes charities each year and the impact that this can have on individual charities.
The importance of a charity’s name and description
Placement is not the only factor influencing searches on the CFC website. A charity’s name and description also can make a huge difference. A simple example: if a charity works in Haiti, then it should include “Haiti” in its description. By doing this, it will come up in a search on “Haiti.” It’s basic SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
A great example of this from last year is a search on “Ukraine.” When you do this, only 11 charities come up, a list that doesn’t include many charities that were very active in responding to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. This is why a small, relatively new charity like United Help Ukraine did so well in 2022. This article explains more about SEO in the CFC, including how you can still change your description for this fall’s CFC campaign.