National capital CFC leaders ready to launch more youthful campaign in 2016

Vince Micone has an idea for what federal employees can do with their new 1.6 percent pay raise next year.

“We got some good news today,” the Combined Federal Campaign National Capital Chairman said during the 2016 kickoff and training event in Washington Sept. 1. “We’re going to get a pay raise Jan. 1 of 1.6 percent. I have an idea of what we can do with that 1.6 percent.”

After the region failed to meet its donation goal for several years in a row, the Combined Federal Campaign is simply encouraging federal employees to get active and share stories of their involvement in the CFC.

The goal this year is to raise $47 million, Micone said, but he’s encouraging federal employees to stretch that number further.

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“We hope to do much better than that,” he told Federal News Radio. It would be really great if we could pass the $50 million mark, because it makes a huge difference.”

National capital area employees raised roughly $46.5 million for 2015’s CFC, just shy of last year’s $50 million goal.

Federal employees have donated less money over the past few years, with sequestration and the 2013 government shutdown taking a big toll. Between 2009 and 2012, Washington-area employees contributed about $60 million a year to the CFC.  But in 2013, donations dropped to  $51.2 million and $49.5 million in 2014.

“We’re turning things around this year,” Micone said. “We certainly know it’s been a tough couple of years, and when the economy went down and when we had sequestration and other things that affected federal employees, people had to save their dollars and take care of their families, and we understand that.”

With a new year and a new goal also comes a new theme for the campaign: Show Some Love.

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CFC leaders chose this year’s theme with the intent that it would give individual employees a chance to tell and share their own stories about how specific charities have made an impact on them.

“It’s a focus this year more on the charities themselves and the individual causes that federal employees are interested in — education, medical research, things of that nature,” said Tom Crispell, a CFC loaned executive for the CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “We’re going to be using social media platforms to spread the word. It’s a youth workforce these days.”

Micone said CFC leaders have been trying to find ways to design a social media friendly campaign for the past couple of years. “Show Some Love” gives employees an easy avenue for employees to highlight the 18,000 charities involved in the CFC, as well as their own photos and stories from campaign events.

Crispell and his volunteers held more than 530 campaign events last year at the CIA and ODNI, from bake sales and basket raffles to beard and mustache contests and water rocket launches.

More than half of Crispell’s volunteers are first-time participants in the campaign this year, and he said he’s surprised to see so many new, younger employees getting involved.

“We’re trying to bring them into the campaign as the traditional giving base is retiring off,” he said. “That’s a very hopeful sign to me. They’re very active in planning events. We already have a whole slate of events that they’re planning, so I think this is a new era. I’m hoping that we will continue and we can turn the tide and start raising the donation level instead of seeing it decline.”

Looking ahead

More changes are coming soon for the campaign, Micone said.

The Office of Personnel Management chose GiveBack.org, a philanthropic website that focuses on organizing large groups of small donors, to run back end of the CFC starting next year.

GiveBack will help OPM, which facilitates the campaign, to modernize the CFC infrastructure.

The national capital region already tweaked all of its websites, including the donor portal, so that federal employees can access it and give from their mobile phones.

GiveBack will also help the agency potentially incorporate federal retirees into the CFC in the future.

“We understand that OPM is … working at ways in the very near future that retirees will be able to give and that we’ll have a more integrated system for employees to give through the campaign,” Micone said.