Jim Starr | April 23, 2018

CFC Decline Result of Too Much, Too Soon; Hope Remains

Whole Whale Podcast:

America’s Charities President & CEO, Jim Starr sits down with George Weiner, Chief Whaler at Whole Whale to discuss the 2017 CFC decline, what happened, and what charities can expect this year. Members of America’s Charities are invited to attend Membership Assembly (exclusively for America’s Charities members only) on May 11th, 2018 where we’ll take a deeper dive into this topic. 

Recently the Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article about the significant decline of the recent Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the federal charity drive. The article provides a painful narrative of how the new rules, plus a new online giving platform, plus natural disasters added up to a delay in launching the campaign and ultimately the “steepest drop in pledges that the drive has seen since 2009.”

While all of that is true, the article doesn’t tell the whole story.   

The fact is, a great deal of change and new systems were implemented all at once in a compressed timeframe, including implementing a change in technology, a new campaign structure, a new fee structure, volunteerism, and solicitation of retirees. Added together with the natural disasters and subsequent relief efforts – and you have a recipe for a very difficult fundraising year.

We have received confirmation that the 2017 campaign total is $101 million, which is a $66 million decrease from the prior year campaign. To say we are disappointed by this result is an understatement.

The implications for charities across the country, most notably our valued nonprofit members that provide critical services to communities across the planet, are incredibly harsh in the light of day. It ultimately means that these important charities – many of whom are on the front lines working with the most vulnerable populations – will receive far less funding then they were counting on.

That long-term funding is one of the clear benefits of this type of workplace fundraising – nonprofits can count on unrestricted funding all year long and plan their programs based on that sustainable revenue stream. Workplace giving, in fact, is incredibly valuable to everyone involved – from employers, to donors, to nonprofits. This is still true.

Despite this steep decline in giving through the 2017 CFC, we want to be very clear: workplace giving is still important, and still a great fundraising model, for all the reasons mentioned here. We remain hopeful that the issues experienced in the prior CFC will not be repeated, and thus the 2018 CFC will improve.

So, let me reiterate: a large number of the problems with the campaign occurred as the result of the rushed implementation of many different, critical aspects of the program, and we have been assured that many of these issues will be resolved prior to the start of the next campaign, if not already. 

We do not think lightning will strike twice. We believe the CFC is still a worthy campaign for charities to participate in – and America’s Charities will continue to advocate on behalf of our nonprofit members as we have throughout the many years leading up to the implementation of this new rule. We will continue to keep our members apprised during all phases of this campaign, no matter if the news is good or bad. We are also working, both independently as well as collectively with other campaign stakeholders, to provide feedback to campaign officials on how things may be improved moving forward, as well as to get assurances that a lot of these issues will not be repeated.  

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