The results of the 2014 Combined Federal Campaign were released on a Friday afternoon without a press release, which unfortunately tells you something about how the CFC did in 2014.
In a phrase: not as well as we all hoped.
There was no government shutdown last fall. There were no new layoff-forcing sequesters. Federal workers actually got a very modest cost of living raise last year for the first time in several years.
But still the CFC went down nearly 8%, after falling 19% in 2013, the year of the shutdown. In contrast, overall charitable giving went up 5.4% in 2014, according to the recent Giving USA report. All the CFC’s decline resulted from fewer people giving through the campaign; the average donation actually went up.
The DC CFC, by far the largest, went down only 4%. It still raises nearly $50 million a year. Its average payroll deduction gift was $856.
Overall, the CFC still raises more than $193 million a year for charities. The average National/International charity is raising more than $41,000 a year through the CFC, with hundreds raising much more. The CFC is still by far the largest workplace fund-raising drive in the country.
Local charities actually raised 8% more through the CFC in 2014. Donations flowed to local charities and away from National/International charities, which collectively went down 16.7%.
Why did this happen? No one knows for sure. Local charities were listed first in the 2014 CFC catalogs of charities. But probably more important was the impact of “universal giving,” plus the big push to get employees to give online.
Universal giving, begun in 2014, allows employees to give to any local charity in the country. So someone who grew up in Boston but is stationed in CA can still support local charities in Boston.
If you go online to search for a CFC charity, you can find that local Boston charity you want to support. But you can also find local charities if you search on a word or phrase, say “animal protection” or “Alzheimer’s Disease.” You’ll get a list of charities doing this kind of work, many of which are local. As a result, you may choose to support the Alzheimer’s Association in Boston rather than the national Alzheimer’s Association, or any of the other national charities that focus on this disease.
The number of CFC donors who give electronically increased in 2014, with nearly a third now giving this way (vs. using the paper pledge cards or giving cash). More than half the money the CFC raised was given electronically, a big increase from 2013. The average gift made online was $541.
CFC officials expect that this push to get everyone to give electronically will lower the campaign’s costs. Those costs did go down slightly in 2014, about 3%, but with the amount raised going down even more (7.8%), a higher percentage went to pay the CFC’s costs – 13.5%. This figure is important because it determines how much the CFC deducts from your donations.