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Federal Charity Drive Reaches Out to Young Donors

Emily Long | Government Executive

November 04, 2009

Many CFCs count on kickoffs and special events to generate excitement about giving. The Heartland campaign sponsors a volunteer day that sends nearly 1,300 federal employees to work on projects at 35 area nonprofits, which allows potential donors to witness firsthand how their dollars are used. This year, instead of organizing one large, costly event, smaller regions and individual agencies hosted charity fairs, speakers and luncheons in addition to other activities for the Kansas City-area kickoff week, held in early October.

The Suncoast CFC in Tampa, Fla., holds beach pizza parties and volunteer fairs with guest speakers and door prizes from local civilian merchants. Many of those events are geared toward the growing population of young military recruits at MacDill Air Force Base. “It’s fun to see younger people getting excited about it and realizing that a new Air Force member would rather win a PlayStation than a luxury vacation weekend,” says Hillary Jollimore, a Suncoast campaign official.

Younger employees can donate their time rather than their money, says Lambert, by raising awareness about the campaign. Similar to workforce succession planning, involving the next generation in promoting the CFC prepares them to donate when they reach higher pay grades and older personnel have retired.

Campaign officials report that the main thing holding back federal employees from giving isn’t financial worry; it’s that they aren’t familiar with the CFC, and no one has approached them asking for a contribution.

“One of the things we try to impress upon local campaigns is that they should have a goal of 100 percent ask,” says Lambert. CFC leaders and volunteers at a minimum should get a pledge card to everyone in their region, Lambert says, though some go above and beyond this suggestion. With a 100 percent “quality contact” goal, the Heartland CFC aims to place information in employees’ hands and follows up to answer questions. And to maximize potential giving, reminding feds about community engagement throughout the year doesn’t hurt.

“The best way you can really grow your campaign in the long run is to make sure the culture of the campaign is year-round,” says Hisle. “While you’re soliciting only during the fall period, people need to get involved with the charities out there. It’s in their minds throughout the year.”

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