Charity Choices

A Resource for Donors

This year’s CFC Campaign: On time, with fewer charities

Be sure to check that your charity comes up on the CFC's online search engine

     The CFC campaign started on time this year, with the online giving portal opening Sept. 9.  Most federal workplaces don’t actually start their campaigns until October or early November.  The campaign runs until January 10. 

     CFC donors will have 310 fewer national and international charities to support this year.  Less than 1,500 of these charities are still in the CFC, compared to more than 2,600 in 2014. In the DC-area CFC, there are 983 local charities in this year’s campaign, 118 fewer than in 2018. 

     The CFC’s new fees, plus its much higher cost administrative cost percentage, plus the steep decline in CFC giving since 2017, have caused this many charities to drop out. 

     The order that charities are listed in the printed catalogs and in online searches has always been important, though perhaps less so as the printed catalogs are phased out.  National/International charities are first this year, followed by International charities, then local charities.  The first federation listed is Health and Medical Research Charities of America.  If you’re a member of this federation, congratulations! Here's the order of federations in the DC-area CFC. 

     The CFC’s online search seems to be working well compared to its first year in 2017.  Searches on key words such as “Alzheimer’s Disease” produce a list of charities actually involved in Alzheimer’s work, which wasn’t always the case. 

     This said, it’s good to make sure your charity is coming up when it should.  Try searching on your name. This is especially true if you have a DBA name for the CFC, or if you use your acronym as your name (SOME, CARE).   If you use two names, use both of them as your name, or make sure your other name is in your CFC description.

     It’s also important to make sure your charity comes up in a search if you use periods and apostrophes in your name.  For example, Concerns of Police Survivors uses “C.O.P.s.”  But in the CFC, it’s listed as “COPS.”  If you search on C.O.P.S., with the periods, it doesn’t come up.

     Also search on key words and phrases to see if you come up.  For example, “Alzheimer’s Disease,” “Alzheimer’s research,” “dementia,” etc.  As with any search engine, think about how potential donors will search for charities that interest them.  Then make sure these key words and phrases are in your CFC description for the 2020 campaign. 

     CFC charities can use longer descriptions now.  It used to be up to 25 words.  It is now up to 256 characters.  That’s roughly 40 words.  Many if not most CFC charities haven’t expanded their descriptions.  It’s one of the simplest things you can do to receive more CFC donations. 

     Another thing charities can do is submit videos and stories about their work.  Here’s a link to the stories now on CFC websites.  But there is one big problem: the names of the charities have been eliminated, in favor of “a CFC-supported charity.” What’s the point of telling your story if the CFC is not going to include your charity’s name and CFC number? 

     There is also no way to access the stories and videos from the CFC’s online giving portal.  You can access them only through the 36 regional CFC websites, which all look alike.  It’s not clear how many CFC donors use their regional CFC websites, vs. going directly to the giving portal. 

     You can monitor how your charity is doing in the CFC by going to the CFC’s administrative website.  You need to put in your username and password.  If you’re part of a CFC federation, you may need to get your credentials from your federation. 

     In relation to how the CFC will do this year, the big unanswered question is whether there will be another government shutdown, or even the serious threat of a shutdown.  Fortunately, both parties in Congress appear to badly want to avoid a shutdown as an election year approaches.  A two-year budget agreement had broad support in the summer.  As a certain politician likes to say, we’ll see what happens. 

     Stay tuned.