News | Oct. 20, 2017

Changes, opportunities touted during charitable campaign kickoff

By Dianne Ryder

For 55 years, the Combined Federal Campaign has allowed federal workers to contribute billions of dollars to local and global charities, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Johnson, the Defense Logistics Agency’s director of Logistics Operations and vice chair for the 2017 campaign.

Johnson welcomed Headquarters McNamara Complex tenant organization leaders and special guests to the CFC kickoff ceremony, Oct. 18 in the HQC auditorium.

He thanked keyworkers, team captains and leaders in particular, whose “spirit of giving and volunteerism” in providing information to coworkers is key to the campaign’s success. 

The combined goal of all HQC organizations is $500,000, and DLA’s goal is $300,000, which Johnson called a “worthy objective.”

He held up a sign that read, “My cause is …” and urged all HQC employees to fill out and display them as a symbol of the cause that means the most to them.

Guest speaker Chrisenda Jones, Senior Associate Director for CFC of the National Capital Area said many employees build “cause walls” with the signs as a way of bonding together in support of various charities.

“I’ve seen firsthand how federal employees like you support the CFC every year,” she said. “Because of your support and generosity, you provide essential funding to individuals, organizations and charities worldwide – you are dedicated to addressing unmet needs.”

Guest speaker Matthew Coyne from the American Red Cross spoke about the many ways in which people are helped by charities such as the Red Cross, whether they have benefited from services such as aid after an emergency or natural disaster, CPR training or blood donations.

“It may not be you that’s getting the service directly, but it is the community – it is the person sitting next to you,” he said. “That’s why the CFC is so very important to our charities.”

In addition to being able to donate funds to more than 10,000 participating charities, this year, federal workers can donate their time via the new online giving portal, managed by the Office of Personnel Management. Volunteers’ hours will be recorded in the portal, but OPM stipulates that time donations must be outside employees’ duty hours. 

The “one stop shop” portal incorporates several of the campaign’s new changes that will allow contributors to donate more easily and efficiently, she said. Federal retirees and annuitants will also be able to contribute via the portal.

Deborah Parker, a CFC loaned executive, explained that ease and flexibility are key components to the portal.

“It offers you the most options as to how you can give,” she said. “It offers you the most effective and easiest options in how to research your causes.”

Parker likens the portal to a “limitless basket” or cart. Once employees establish an account, they can conduct searches via keywords to build the list of charities they want to support. 

“Once you compile your list, you can click on the charities and you’ll get a further drop down that gives you information about exactly what that charity does and shows you things like … their administrative rates,” she said.

Another change is that employees may designate as many charities as they would like. In the past, donations were limited to three charities via payroll deduction. 

The portal also features a long linger time, Parker said. “So you can research charities and come back, and it’s still open.”

Contributors can then assign percentages to each charity, add charities and decide on the frequency of payments.

“You can do payroll deduction, electronic check or credit card,” Parker said. “Let’s say you want to make a recurring deduction, but you don’t want it coming out of your paycheck; you want to put it on a certain [credit or debit] card. You can do that.”

Contributors can easily change or update the amount of their donations up until midnight on Jan. 12, 2018.

Another significant change this year is the elimination of cash donations, fundraisers and employee gifts to undesignated charities. Regarding the latter, Parker said leaving the decision to the CFC program on which charities received those donations was troublesome.

“It was within ethical guidelines, but charity should be more personal than that,” she said.

She also noted that most federal workers aren’t aware of the logistics and administrative costs of moving and managing cash, which was taking time and resources that could be better used elsewhere in the campaign.

Employees can still submit a one-time donation, either via a paper check or money order or by credit card or e-check in the portal.

Paper pledge cards and catalogs still exist, but they are a stopgap. The intent is to have the program completely online, Parker said.

“Because that’s another cost we can reduce. All these changes came about because we needed the program to be leaner … and easier for people to participate in CFC.” 

Due to the effects of various hurricanes and tropical storms, the portal implementation has been delayed until late October, so employees may not be able to access it immediately, Parker said.

“Also, we wanted to be sure that the portal was absolutely cyber-secure; it’s a complex and time- consuming measure,” she said. 

For more information about the campaign, employees can contact their organization’s CFC keyworker. More information about CFC in the National Capital Area is available on the CFCNCA organization's website.