Timeless Principles versus Technology, Why Workplace Giving Works

Sections of this topic

    Workplace giving has been around for a long time. Indeed, you can make the case that the person who invented workplace giving was Benjamin Franklin … but that’s an analysis for a different venue.

    The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) was established in 1961, and has been going strong for the past 52 years; and one reason that is so is because an integral part of a CFC campaign is face-to-face communication.

    In a CFC campaign there are multiple opportunities for face-to-face communication, including some that non-profits may be able to participate in – i.e., the kickoff events and charity fairs.

    One of the aspects about the CFC that is often overlooked, is that one of the “tasks” of the federal CFC volunteers (including those making the direct solicitation – called: keyworkers) is to engage in face-to-face communication with their colleagues.

    Aside from the dollar goal(s), a major objective a CFC campaign is to have a 100% rate of asking people to participate.

    This face-to-face communication is one of the reasons that the CFC continues to be successful. More than 50 years after its creation, it just keeps chugging along, generating millions of unrestricted dollars for thousands of local, national, and international non-profits.

    I have a mouse pad that I got at a charity fair years ago that lists the ten reasons people give – as follows:


    1. People are inherently generous.
    2. People give to people.
    3. People give because they are asked.
    4. People give in relation to the person who asks.
    5. People respond to a specific request for support.
    6. People give to peers.
    7. People give to people in a campaign atmosphere—annual or capital.
    8. People give to positive, enthusiastic solicitors.
    9. Most people want, and all donors deserve recognition for their gifts.
    10. People give to successful and beneficial programs and to make an investment in advancing good work.

    When you look at this list, you see that workplace giving actual hits 9 of the 10 reasons listed, the only one that does not take place in a CFC campaign is Number 5, because the keyworkers are not asking for the donors to support a specific charity, rather for the donor to support the ones he or she cares about. Also note that Numbers 2,3,4,6, 7, and 8 all relate to face-to-face communication.

    Meanwhile, some private companies that have attempted to move their workplace giving campaigns to 100% online, have seen significant drops in the amount of money raised and in the participation rate … a decline that has often been more than 50 percent in both categories.

    This doesn’t mean that the CFC hasn’t kept up with technology, at this point all CFC campaigns have a website, and in most cases the listing of the CFC charities for a region is searchable online as well, and these are just a few basic examples. Many are also on Facebook and are using other tools of the 21st century to help accomplish their goals.

    Within a CFC campaign, the central contractor to the government that is responsible for the campaign management is what is called the Principal Combined Fund Organization, or PCFO. (I know it’s a jargon term, but it is a government program after all). The PCFOs are the organizations that manage the overall campaign (and later are responsible for the disbursement of funds – hence the “Fund” part of the name), print the campaign materials, and organize regional kickoffs. The Federal government periodically recompletes the contracts for non-profits that wish to apply to be the PCFO for a given region.

    Earlier this year the contract for the largest CFC in the country which is the National Capital Area CFC, and effective April 1, 2013 the new PCFO is EarthShare. The CEO of EarthShare is Kal Stein, who was a member of the CFC-50 Commission that held hearings on ways to improve the CFC during its 50th Anniversary Year.

    I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Stein and the several areas that he said EarthShare intends to concentrate are: ways to increase the awareness of the CFC in the community, to implement more of the social media tools in campaigns, and to make sure that Federal employees are recognized for their contributions to the non-profit world via their CFC participation.

    He also expressed a commitment to finding ways to help CFC charities by increasing the emphasis on finding ways for Federal employees to volunteer with the charities they support.

    If you have suggestions for EarthShare, please share them by posting comments on the blog, or by sending them directly to me, and I will be glad to share them with Mr. Stein.

    During his 25-year career in the Federal sector, Bill Huddleston, The CFC Coach,
    served in many CFC roles. If you want to participate in the Combined Federal
    Campaign, maximize your nonprofit’s CFC revenues, or just ask a few questions,
    contact Bill Huddleston


    Have you seen … The Fundraising Series of ebooks.


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