Combined Federal Campaign making push for giving

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Now that you finally tossed the last of the turkey scraps, it’s time to get down to business – the business of giving, that is. Today is the Combined Federal Campaign’s Giving Tuesday. But the signs are already indicating a strong season this year. For an update, the Chair of the coordinating committee for the National Capital Region Vince Micone joined Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

Interview transcript:

Tom Temin: Vince, it seems like we were just talking about planning the whole National Capital Campaign and Combined Federal Campaign and here we are, in the midst of it. Give us a progress report so far.

Vince Micone: Well, Tom, thank you very much. So far, the campaign has gone extraordinarily well, actually, it’s exceeding our expectations. Right now we’ve raised about $10 million, which is about a third of our goal. And we’re expecting today, on Giving Tuesday to increase that total to hopefully about $12 million. That’s how important Giving Tuesday is to us through the Combined Federal Campaign. So let me put a little bit of that in context. Typically, in a normal day in the Combined Federal Campaign, we receive about $50,000 in pledges and contributions from employees. This year, however, we’ve been receiving about double that every single day. And so it’s been pretty amazing. What’s also really important with our campaign this year, we are seeing 25% of the people who are participating in the CFC, they’re doing it for the first time. So they’re brand new donors and contributors, which is really amazing. Having been in the government a long time, I know that CFC historically is dependent on people who have been in government to make those large contributions. So we’re very excited to see an incredible turnaround with the number of new donors. We’re tracking up. And I know some of the private sector, workplace campaigns have been down a little bit. So we’re pretty excited about the commitment of federal employees to doing something particularly in this very, very challenging year.

Tom Temin: It’s almost as if this is a parallel to people giving 25% tips in restaurants, because restaurants and therefore their wait staffs are hurting. People are stepping up to the plate in a way that I don’t think we could have expected, sounds like?

Vince Micone: Well, you know, a couple of things that have really amazed me. And I remember when we talked earlier in the year, we were talking about how we were trying out our virtual events for the very first time and what we were shocked with our virtual events – typically, if we got 500 people for our National Capital Area kickoff, we would be thrilled. Well, we had 10,000 impressions for our CFC events that we did. As we got everything started in October. Ten thousand people participated in that. So as we’re speaking, either myself, my co-chair, the National Honorary chair, director of the Peace Corps – when we right now are speaking at agency events and activities, CFC may be part of a broader event, we may be able to speak to the entire agency when we talk about CFC. So we’re able to reach people in a very different way, and a very personal way about the importance of giving through the Combined Federal Campaign or frankly, just giving to do something for your community overall. And that’s been something that has been, I think, a game changer in the way that we’re going to look at managing these campaigns moving forward, because even in an office environment, it’s just a lot easier to reach out and communicate directly with federal employees about the importance of this.

Tom Temin: Yeah, that seems to be the phenomenon a lot of people are experiencing is that meetings, programs, training seminars that used to draw hundreds are now drawing in the five figures of people because nobody has to travel and it’s all online. And I’m curious about that number: 25% of this year’s participants in the CFC are first timers. Does that mean that they’re new to the federal government? Or is it simply people that are motivated to give that haven’t given before that might have been veterans in the government?

Vince Micone: It reflects probably a small percentage of new employees. Because you know, we don’t bring on as many new employees in the federal government as we probably should, just given structurally how we’re set up. So a lot of this, I think, represents people who are just new to the CFC. So they may have been with the government for a while and decided to give, or we may have picked up lapsed donors who gave a few years ago found other ways to contribute to their community, but they’re coming back and we first started to see this during the special solicitation we did for pandemic relief. In the spring, there were a huge number of new donors that were giving to CFC that way. So this is very, very exciting to us. And I do think that the new giving techniques that we’re using are reaching out to younger employees within the federal community who interact in different ways than some of us who have been around the government for a while. So it’s sort of I think, a combination of bringing people back because of the importance of the time and attracting new donors.

Tom Temin: We’re speaking with Vince Micone, chair of the National Capital Region Coordinating Committee for the Combined Federal Campaign. And are there any trends that you can discern in where the money is going now that it’s coming in at twice the expected rate? Are there particular areas of charity that people seem to favor?

Vince Micone: Well, so far we have not been able to identify where the dollars are going to which charities. That will happen later as all that data is recorded out. But our messaging has really been whatever organization you give to it is providing relief during the pandemic to those nonprofit organizations. Because many organizations are having real great challenges doing the normal activities they do to get the resources necessary to provide their services, be it individual fundraising, corporate donations, whatever they do. So no matter what the charity is, they’re depending on CFC dollars more than they usually have. That’s a powerful message. We’ve done a little research in the broader charitable community. And we have found that of course, as would be expected health care and medical support is the most given-to cause in 2020 so far. We’ve really talked about the importance of all of our charities, getting the sort of support that federal employees can give, because it helps them continue to provide the services that they’re providing across the board. My guess is probably when we look at things near the end of the campaign, when we start getting our reports, after we’ve collected all of our contributions, we’ll probably see a bump up in the health care, but I think we will probably continue to see federal employees supporting across the spectrum.

Tom Temin: And do you have any sense of what the other areas of the country are doing in the total CFC? Are they kind of matching what’s happening here in the National Capital Region?

Vince Micone: Well, I’ll tell you in the National Capital Region, right now, we represent about half of all the campaign contributions through the CFC – half. We certainly don’t represent half of all the federal employees. So we’re pretty excited about the commitment that employees have in this region. But you know, we are also still early in the campaign. The last month of the campaign is where the bulk of the contributions come in. And every region is a little bit different. I anticipate when everything is sorted out in the end, the NCA will represent what it normally does – between about 35% and 40% of all the contributions. It just happens to be that we are a little bit ahead of everything right now, in our terms of our contributions.

Tom Temin: And it is Giving Tuesday, this Tuesday. Now I guess we’re getting closer to Christmas as Thanksgiving recedes into the past. What is it that’s happening today that marks Giving Tuesday?

Vince Micone: So we’re doing something really fun this year. I think everyone probably remembers the ice bucket challenge that was started by Pat Quinn, when he found out that he had ALS. And that ice bucket challenge raised well over $120 million for ALS causes. Actually, Mr. Quinn passed away this past week. And so we remember him and the impact that he made. We’re launching our own effort called lemon face challenge course, this year, we’re focusing on how every employee can be the face of change. And so what we’re encouraging employees to do is to grab a lemon wedge, take a bite out of it, make a face, film it and then throw that on the web, and then go to CFC and make your contribution. This actually started out with the Department of Defense with members of the military and civilian overseas, who started on their own the lemon face challenge. And we thought it was a great idea. So we are marking a real effort to get the word out and the message out about the importance of the campaign with the lemon face challenge that we’re pushing out right now through our social media to get people engaged and involved. Today, we want everyone to give together on Giving Tuesday. This started as an opportunity for us after Thanksgiving and Black Friday and Cyber Monday to focus on what gifts we can give to the community. And it’s an important day for us. As I mentioned, will bring in hopefully about $2 million. And it also is in advance of International Volunteer Day, which comes on December 5. So there’s just a lot going on this week. And it’s a very important week for us to focus on everything that we have to be grateful for, think about giving gifts to our families, and then think about the gift for our community. And that’s what we’re encouraging people to do this week.

Tom Temin: Well, my question is, could I use a lime wedge and then throw it into my gin and tonic afterwards?

Vince Micone: You certainly can. And the funny thing was we did one of these lemon face challenges for one of our CFC board meetings, and I didn’t have a lemon. So I used lemon juice and have the same effect. We just want to have people have fun with the Combined Federal Campaign. Part of what we do is try and get people to smile, try and get people to get engaged. And this is one way we think we can do it and yeah, we’d like you to do the lemon or lime face challenge. And I’ll join you for a cocktail after we’re done.

Tom Temin: Fair enough. One way or another, we’ll make lemonade. Vince Micone is chair of the National Capital Region Coordinating Committee for the Combined Federal Campaign. As always, thanks so much for joining me.

Vince Micone: Thank you very much for having us. I look forward to chatting with you again as we get close to wrapping up the campaign.

Tom Temin: We’ll post this interview along with links to more information at FederalNewsNetwork.com/FederalDrive. Hear the Federal Drive on your schedule, subscribe at Podcastone or wherever you get your shows.

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