It’s officially fall in the northern hemisphere. While the season conjures changing colors, crisp mornings, football, and pumpkin spice everything for many of us, for thousands of charitable organizations it is an exciting time of year for a different reason: the advent of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) open giving season. The CFC is the official workplace giving campaign of the federal government and one of the largest and most successful workplace fundraising campaigns in the world. Over the past 58 years, generous federal employees have contributed more than $8.3 billion to help those in need in local communities, across the country and around the globe.

Charitable organizations interested in participating in the CFC must apply and pass a vetting process each year. Once approved, these organizations are included in the list of thousands of qualified charities.

If you are one of these approved CFC-participating charities, how can you stand out in the crowd and make the most of your participation in the campaign? These tips can help your organization reach potential donors and maximize your presence in this historic campaign.

  1. Write your CFC number on your forehead.
    Just kidding! But seriously, you should plaster this number on everything except your own body: promotional items, brochures, your website, newsletters, other communications, advertisements, banners, signs. This five-digit number is similar to a Social Security number. It uniquely identifies your charity in the CFC, and it is what the donor uses to designate her donation to your charity. So, it behooves you to have it publicized everywhere.
  2. Say yes!
    Participate in all of the activities offered to you. During the campaign, federal agencies host events and invite CFC charities to participate. This might be a charity fair where each charity has a booth or an event with a formal speaking opportunity. Either way, these events are your chance to get out in front of the federal community! Make every effort to have someone from your organization attend an event, if invited. Be sure to bring pledge forms for potential donors, and make it super easy on them by filling in your CFC number.  Keep in mind that the events in more remote locations or at odd times can be some of the best opportunities as charity attendance might be lower than at other events.
  3. Tell a really good story.
    Captivate the federal audience by telling a compelling success story about someone who has been helped by your organization. Practice telling it so that you can deliver it smoothly at a charity fair or if you are asked to speak at a CFC event. You may also have the opportunity to provide the success as a written story or even as a video. Having these materials prepared and ready to go helps to fulfill requests from CFC zones in a timely manner.
  4. Don’t show up empty-handed.
    CFC events are like celebrations, so bring treats! Small promotional items like pens, pop-sockets, coasters, etc. and food items like candy or snacks generally thrill event attendees. And giving federal employees something branded with your organization’s name and CFC number promotes your organization even further when it makes its way back to their workspace. Fun ways to distribute these “prizes” will make your booth the most popular one at a charity fair: go-fish game, spin-the-wheel, trivia, guessing game, etc.
  5. Jump on the bandwagon.
    Incorporate the CFC theme, Show Some Love, and design into your materials, messaging and other marketing efforts. Global Impact and our partner Tribal Tech, Inc. have served as the inaugural CFC National Marketing Outreach Coordinator for the past three years, developing marketing strategy, theme and materials for the 36 CFC regional zones to implement. Materials are available for use through a file sharing site, Brandfolder, so you don’t have to recreate the wheel. Using a Show Some Love mark or the illustrated design concept in your own materials creates cohesion and brand recognition.
  6. Highlight your CFC Cause of the Week.
    Did you know the CFC promotes a charitable cause each week throughout the active campaign period? Each of the 36 regional CFC zones will be promoting these weekly causes on their social media platforms. CFC regulations prevent the campaigns from mentioning or promoting specific charities, but you can comment on, like, share and otherwise engage on these pages yourself to get your charity’s name out there. Incorporate the weekly causes that apply to your mission when reaching out to your donor base through social media, website, newsletters and other forms of communication. Be sure to use the #ShowSomeLoveCFC in your social media posts!
  7. Be open to helping hands.
    Studies have shown that donors who also volunteer give more. Now that the CFC allows federal employees to pledge volunteer time in addition to monetary gifts, capitalize on this by thinking of good ways to allow federal employees to volunteer with your organization and then promote that at events and through your communications. Don’t think you have volunteer opportunities to offer? Think again! What about asking a volunteer to share about you on social media, write to congress on your behalf, answer phones for a day, stuff letters for a direct mail campaign, or even provide a professional skill like creative design or legal support? These count as volunteering and serve to connect donors to your impactful work, as well as help your organization further their mission.

Hopefully these tips will help enhance your participation in the CFC! If you really want to write your CFC number on your face with permanent marker, who are we to tell you no? (But maybe you should just get a t-shirt instead!)