One of the best ways for charities to raise money short of the church collection plate is workplace fundraising. By far the biggest workplace fundraising drive in the country is the federal government’s Combined Federal Campaign, which raised more than $167 million in 2016.
Through the "CFC," federal employees, military personnel and postal employees can give to a broad range of international, national and local charities. The Campaign takes place each fall, usually from mid-September until late December.
What makes workplace fund raising so effective is the magic of payroll deduction, which allows people to make large gifts by having a little deducted from every paycheck. A gift of $5 a week – one fancy coffee -- adds up to an annual donation of $260. In the DC CFC, for example, the average gift in 2014 was more than $662.
Unfortunately, after raising more than $282 million in 2009, the amount raised by the CFC has been declining, especially since 2012. The 2017 campaign had the biggest drop ever, to $101 million, a 40% decline. There are several reasons for this decline. One is the struggles of many federal and military employees, who have faced shutdowns, sequesters, no cost of living increase for several years, etc.
The main reason for the big decline in 2017 however is major changes implemented this year by the CFC. Among other things, the local organizations that ran the local federal campaigns (mainly United Ways) were dropped, in favor of regional "outreach coordinators" and a central web portal to facilitate online giving. In addition, the portal was delayed and then didn't work well, excluding many CFC charities from searches.