2018 Combined Federal Campaign Launched: Better Not to Count Chickens

By U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

September 10, 2018; NonProfit Times

NPQ has long reported that the federal government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is in decline, and last year’s tally of receipts did not hold many surprises.

The CFC, of course, is the workplace giving campaign for federal workers—something like the United Way—so it is not on its own in experiencing a negative trend, but it may stand alone in terms of the degree of the downturn. Last year’s total was just $101 million, compared to the previous year’s $167 million and 2009’s $283 million. This precipitous drop was not only disappointing, but it also had the unfortunate effect of driving planned costs of the campaign up proportionately to 25 percent of the tally.

However, the CFC is still playing all of this very close to the vest. As it tries to pump up its constituency for this year’s campaign, it has buried any information regarding the downturn while still touting technological fixes as the answer:

New opportunities abound with the use of new technology. What seemed impossible just a few years ago is now entirely possible and will be more commonplace five years from now.

The proliferation of this technology campaign-wide presents a rare strategic occasion for the CFC to become an even more efficient campaign in the future. The CFC Program is endeavoring to bring these advances to donors as well. For example, nonprofits are lending their expertise in web-based philanthropy to bring new efficiencies to giving in the federal workplace through the use automated giving.

Indeed, the CFC’s section on Impact and Results shows that the effort has recently eschewed any press releases on dollar results.

Year Amount News Release
2015 $177.8 million None Available
2014 $193.2 million None Available
2013 $209.7 million None Available
2012 $258.3 million None Available
2011 $272.7 million None Available
2010 $281.5 million OPM Release CFC Giving Numbers
2009 $282.6 million OPM Recognizes Charitable Giving of Federal Employees at White House Ceremony
2008 $275.9 million OPM Recognizes Charitable Giving of Federal Employees in White House Ceremony
2007 $273.1 million CFC Raises $273 Million in 2007
2006 $271.6 million CFC Rings the Register with Fourth-Consecutive, Record-Setting Charity Drive
2005 $268.5 Million CFC Receives Record Pledges Totaling $268.5 Million in 2005
2004 $256.9 Million None Available

This section does offer that “Campaign results data from 2004-2009 are available upon request.” Still, we commend the NonProfit Times for keeping on top of the results after 2015.

The Combined Federal Campaign may be a canary in the coalmine where workplace campaigns are concerned…or maybe something else ails it? In any case, it doesn’t want to talk about it.—Ruth McCambridge