Fortunately, most ways we distribute our guides won’t be greatly impacted by the virus, as we explain below. We’ve also developed a new digital way to reach more than 60,000 CFC donors, even those working from home.
The HOLIDAY/POST GUIDE is the easiest guide for us in relation to the virus.
We distribute it in two ways: through the Post and by hand in the DC area. We know hand distribution is going to be harder this year. We plan to focus on Metro stations where we distribute the most guides, such as L’Enfant Plaza, Federal Triangle, NIH and Union Station, all of which are surrounded by federal buildings.
Our goal is to do half what we did last year. Our distributors want to work; several have worked with us for at least 10 years. They’ll of course be wearing masks and gloves and handing out guides that are shrink-wrapped in plastic.
The guides we can’t distribute by hand will be inserted into the Post. We'll add areas that have high percentages of federal and military employees.
We’ll also be doing an online holiday giving campaign, using resources we save by not doing as much hand distribution, by far the most expensive way we distribute our guides. This campaign will involve the new way we’ve developed to reach federal and military employees wherever they are working (see below), plus a digital and print advertising campaign.
Fortunately, we already have a great destination: our redesigned website and each charity’s page, which gives charities a chance to make their cases to potential CFC donors. There’s nothing like our charities’ pages in the CFC.
Our National Guide is also pretty straight-forward.
Most are distributed at commissaries on bases across the country. Our guides are handed out along with coupons for commissary products. The commissaries all remain open. The distributors continue to get out the coupon books, which have obvious value to people walking into the commissary. Bases are always isolated, especially now, so they are relatively safe.
Some bases are closed to anyone who’s not active duty. Many distributors (mostly military retirees) live off base, thus they can’t hand out our guides. But 80 bases in the United States are still open. The bottom line is we can easily get out as many guides as we did last year, though at somewhat fewer bases.
Another 11,000 National Guides are inserted into Recreation News copies that go to workplaces outside the DC area, in states like West Virginia. Most of these go through the mailrooms of government agencies for desk-to-desk distribution. Rec News distribution has not been impacted much by the pandemic, as we explain below.
Our DC GUIDE is the most complicated.
We distribute this guide in three ways: by hand using our own distributors, inserting it in Recreation News at DC-area workplaces, and handing it out at commissaries at six DC-area bases.
Four of these six bases are still open to distributors. We’ll simply distribute more at these four bases (Andrews, Bolling, Ft. Belvoir and Ft. Meade).
Recreation News, a monthly that goes to nearly 200 workplaces in the greater DC area, has been little affected by the pandemic. Importantly, most copies are distributed through the mailrooms of government agencies, for desk distribution. Federal and military employees are still receiving their mail, even if they’re mostly working from home.
“During covid, our distribution has had minimal changes because nearly all Department of Defense-related employees legally can’t work from home, for security reasons,” explained Rec News’ publisher, Karl Teel. “At non-DoD facilities, those who work from home are usually required to come in at least once a week to, among other things, get their interoffice mail.”
The other way we distribute our DC Guide is by hand, near federal and military buildings. We know hand distribution is going to be harder this year. We plan to focus on Metro stations where we distribute the most guides, such as L’Enfant Plaza, Federal Triangle, NIH and Union Station, all of which are surrounded by federal buildings. Our goal is to do half what we did last year. The guides we can’t distribute by hand will be inserted into additional copies of Recreation News that go to federal and military employees.
A great new digital way to reach more than 60,000 federal and military employees
It is not easy to find email or mailing lists of people who work for the federal government. Fortunately, perhaps the best list is the one that Recreation News uses to email its Weekend Update newsletter to employees.
Rec News’ email list is unique: it’s mostly at-work email addresses (.gov and .mil) and its newsletters go out on internal government servers, meaning they actually get to employees’ email boxes. Employees may be working from home, but are still actively using their work email accounts. (Rec News can do this because of its status as the official publication of Government Employee Associations and MWRs – Morale, Welfare and Recreation groups at military installations).
To help the CFC campaign and our charities, Rec News has agreed to do three special email newsletters. Each will encourage CFC giving during this difficult year, highlight several of our CFC charities (see below), and include a link to each charity in our website. From each charity’s page, there’s a direct link to the CFC giving portal.