When I conduct workshops about the CFC, the title is: “The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the Golden Goose of American Philanthropy.” Why that title you ask? Because just like the golden goose, the CFC just keeps chugging alone, raising millions of dollars every year for thousands of non-profits, all with hardly anyone noticing or understanding how it works, or how it could be even more successful. The intent of this report is to help the non-profit community to better understand the CFC and its many benefits, both obvious and hidden.

What is the CFC?

The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the Federal government’s workplace giving program, and it is the largest and most successful workplace giving program in the world. Through it, Federal public servants have donated more than $1.2 billion of unrestricted funds to thousands of local, national and international non-profits over the past five years.

CFC Fundraising Benefits

● Generates a reliable, twelve month income stream.
● Revenues are unrestricted.
● More leverage than any other means of fund-raising.
● Less risk than any other means of fund-raising.

CFC Hidden Benefits

Even though the CFC is first and foremost a fundraising tool, there are many other benefits that are available to non-profits that participate in workplace giving campaigns, including the Combined Federal Campaign. Once a non-profit learns how to benefit from the other opportunities that workplace giving presents, it can use the CFC to generate other benefits that are not so easily measured, which I call “Hidden Treasures.”The “Hidden Treasures” of workplace giving include:

● Leadership Development
● Public Speaking
● Volunteer Recruitment
● Project Management
● Market Research about your non-profit
● Recruitment of Board Members
● Development of multiple year income streams
● Increase of public awareness of your non-profit

First and foremost, one of the benefits is the opportunity to use participation in the CFC as an integral part of the leadership development process for your non-profit’s staff. By participating in a CFC campaign, there are opportunities to practice many different skills, including leadership development, public speaking, customer service, project management, and market research about your non-profit.
The paradox of workplace giving is that because the individual gifts are not huge dollar amounts (the average individual gift is $175), no one is going to “blow” a major gift presentation, but the non-profit staff member can gain experience in speaking to and listening to potential donors. Another advantage of the CFC as a training ground is that it is a set time each year (the fall), and it has a definite end point. This allows the non-profit staff to plan for, participate in, and then perform after action reviews of what worked, and what should be done differently next year.

Multiple Year Revenue Streams

Of all of the “hidden treasures” the one that is most easily overlooked is the fact that with the CFC, you really are developing multi-year donors. Since the CFC is an annual campaign, and with the way that the reporting mechanisms work, the results reported are for a given year.
The reality is that most CFC donors are multiple year donors, and once they start donating to a particular non-profit they tend to keep donating to that non-profit. There is no research that proves that point, but I have seen thousands of CFC pledge cards during my Federal career, and the reality is that most of the donors made minimal changes from year to year. There’s currently no reporting mechanism that allows for the reporting of multiple year gifts, but many CFC donors are five and ten year donors to the charities they care about and support.

Leverage, Risk, and the CFC Process — Non-Profits

For a participating non-profit, one huge benefit they receive from the CFC is the amount of leverage they gain by having the Federal CFC teams help them raise funds. While the CFC is not a no-cost method of fundraising, compared to most fundraising methods, it is extremely low risk. Unlike a special event, where if you have a cancellation due to bad weather, your non-profit would still have to pay the hotel. With the CFC, even if you don’t raise any money, you have a limited downside risk, e.g. you’re not going to lose your shirt.
One example of the leverage in the marketing realm is that the campaign catalogs are printed with the CFC charity’s information, and delivered to every Federal employee in your region, with the 25 word description you wrote, plus your non-profit’s URL. How much would it cost you to send a postcard with that information to every Federal employee in your region?

The information above was excerpted from my CFC Special Report. To get your copy of the full report, please go to www.cfcfundraising.com and register to request your copy. I will also send you information about the CFC in your region.

Posted on 14 April 2008

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