Charity campaign manager ensures agency finishes strong

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

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Dozens of hardy individuals braved a cold morning Jan. 7 to celebrate the Defense Logistics Agency’s participation in the 2019 Combined Federal Campaign, which ends Jan. 12. The group gathered at the McNamara Headquarters Complex pond at the agency’s Fort Belvoir, Virginia, headquarters to show support for the thousands of worthy charitable causes the campaign sponsors.

Watt Lough, DLA’s campaign manager, organized the event, which was assisted by CFC key workers throughout the HQC.

“I wanted people to visualize that the power of one person joining with another is why CFC works,” he said.

To date DLA has raised $222,568 toward its goal of $274,000.

A market research chief in DLA Strategic Materials, Lough became DLA’s campaign manager in July 2019 in response to a call from DLA Acquisition leaders for volunteers. He had also assisted DLA’s campaign manager when his directorate had the lead for the campaign five years ago.

“DLA has a very good reputation and a rich history of giving,” he said. “I knew we were going to make a very good effort at this.”

Lough was also aware of the challenges. He worked with DLA Information Operations on a dedicated webpage and with DLA Public Affairs on publicity. And he made flyers and posters to illustrate DLA’s progress throughout the campaign.

Lough also worked with DLA Human Resources to get the number of fulltime equivalent employees assigned to DLA in the national capital region, which determines the agency’s giving goal and how many key workers are assigned. The national capital area requires a 1:20 ratio of key workers to employees, but they take on the task as a collateral duty and must avoid the appearance of coercion.

Lough added that it’s important to have the support of all leaders, including DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams. 

“From the very beginning my senior leaders gave me a lot of support, all the way to the director and the vice director,” he said, adding that they wanted the agency to meet its goal but it wasn’t about the money, it was about outreach.

A big part of running a successful campaign, he continued, is using agency key workers to reach out to their colleagues as much as possible. Lough also solicited help from the HQC tenant organizations’ key workers, especially for weekly awareness events and charity fairs.

Lough said he also encountered what he called generational challenges. Some employees want to donate cash on the spot, which current CFC rules don’t allow. CFC has incorporated technology to aid online giving and strives to make the process more user friendly each year, but the process is evolving.

Lough speculated that people may be able to donate spontaneously through an app on their personal device in future campaigns. In the meantime, employees can write checks to CFC. One employee who donated annually by check told Lough her previous year’s donation took months to clear. She was discouraged and tempted to stop giving through CFC.

“It took a bit of persuasion. I said, ‘I’ll make sure that the check will go through the proper channels and we’ll make sure it gets processed.’” Because Lough was able to help the employee, he said she was comfortable making a sizable donation.

It’s become a largely digital campaign, but one that Lough thinks still requires a human touch.

“People need to be given awareness and opportunity so they can make a more informed decision,” he said.

“Part of my reason for volunteering is I think it’s important,” he said, adding that he’s given to CFC for the 16 years he’s been with the agency. But he also values managing the campaign as a good leadership opportunity.

“You’ve got to be willing to own it and work with what you get,” he said. “You’ve got to find what people can do, what they’re willing to do and use that. Then those people will shine for you.”

Lough said the feedback he receives from people who work at local charities is encouraging.

“They talk about what it means to have that money come from CFC and that they’re personally connected in our local communities; they know our communities better than a national office would,” he said. “They know how to use that money within our community more effectively.”

He stressed that CFC vets participating charities and their screening processes ensures charitable organizations meet high standards.

“I think employees can feel good about where that money’s going,” he said. “CFC represents a lot of things to a lot of people. Obviously, the government thinks it’s important enough because they dedicate our resources here to support it.”

Employees can search charities via the CFC's online portal and find details on DLA’s progress toward the 2019 CFC giving goal at the CAC-enabled CFC Progress DLA Today intranet page.