Washington feds raise record amount in 2010 for charity

National Capital Area employees donated $66.7 million through the Combined Federal Campaign.

Federal employees from the Washington area gave a record amount of money in 2010 to charity, the local chapter of the Combined Federal Campaign announced during its end-of-campaign celebration Wednesday morning.

Washington-area federal employees donated $66.7 million in 2010 to about 4,000 charities through the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area, their local chapter. There are 350,000 federal employees in the National Capital Area.

The pledged amount currently is $200,000 more than the record CFCNCA collected in 2009, but slightly below the $67 million goal the campaign set for itself in September. Campaign organizers emphasized they still are receiving and processing pledges, and expect to reach the $67 million mark once all pledges are collected.

Linda Washington, chairwoman of the National Capital Area's Local Federal Coordinating Committee and senior policy adviser for community initiatives at the Transportation Department, spoke to more than 1,000 campaign volunteers at the celebration, thanking them "for changing lives locally, nationally and around the world."

The record donations come as many federal employees are themselves struggling, she said, making the figure all the more impressive.

"Some people think federal employees are immune [to the effects of the recession]," Washington said in an interview with Government Executive. "[But] we have people in our families who are without employment. We are being affected also."

She credited the campaign's continued success to "the culture of caring" among federal employees, adding, "we see the need in what we do in our everyday jobs."

Campaign volunteers at the event said they were surprised at how little the pay freeze or the recession affected giving.

Katie Finn, deputy campaign manager at the National Institutes of Health, said NIH collected nearly 2.7 million in pledges from more than 10,000 employees during the 2010 campaign. After the pay freeze was announced, only four employees adjusted their gifts, she said.

The campaign's growing Web presence was critical to its success because it made donations easier and reduced overhead cost, according to Washington. At the celebration, CFCNCA introduced a new E-Giving Award, presented to agencies that increase paperless pledges by more than 10 percent from the previous year. More than 30 agencies received the award. Washington said making CFCNCA technology-focused is part of the campaign's broader push to engage younger federal employees. "Young folks do things quickly," she said. "They want to give online; they want to make it fast." But Washington said CFCNCA also is trying to engage young federal employees offline. The campaign is setting up a young donor advisory board and plans to continue events like the successful "lend a hand" happy hour it hosted this past October.

"When you come to the federal government, you are faced with so much, so CFC is just another program," she said. "We want to make [young people] aware of what CFC is all about."

CORRECTION: The original version of this story misstated the goal the campaign set for itself. The correct goal is $67 million. Also, there are 350,000 Washington area federal employees overall; that is not the number of people who donated to the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area.