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Combined Federal Campaign Kickoff

As prepared for delivery

Remarks by
David L. Bibb
Deputy Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Combined Federal Campaign Kickoff
Oct. 24, 2005

Thank you, Marty (Wagner), for that kind introduction.

Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for being here for the kickoff of the 2005 Combined Federal Campaign for the National Capital Area.

I’m going to start by thanking Marty Wagner – Associate Administrator for the Office of Governmentwide Policy - for serving as GSA’s chair of the National Capital Area’s 2005 Combined Federal Campaign. 

We need look no further than the morning weather report for a reminder that this has been a year of extraordinary challenges.  And it seems we are not done yet. Which means the need for help is growing even as we gather here today. Marty and all of us have our work cut out this year.

The good news is that GSA has a track record that says a lot about the generosity and compassion of our associates. Your attendance and enthusiasm are two things that make me feel good about our prospects for a record year. Being here today shows that you know how important this drive is to the people who live and work in this area.

Like you, I believe in the CFC. I've donated every year since I was an intern in Atlanta – way back in 1971 -- because it's a wonderful way to help other people.  And when I was offered a chance to serve on the board for the National Capital Area awhile back, I jumped at the chance.

The board is responsible for all CFC activities, including selecting and overseeing the management firm that helps put on each year's campaign, and approving charities included under the CFC umbrella. 

The theme of this year’s campaign is, “Be an Everyday Hero.”

Will Rogers said being a hero is about the shortest-lived profession on Earth, but that doesn’t hold true in every case. Associates who contribute even a small amount each pay period to the CFC are “everyday heroes” each day, every day, all year long.

I’d like to thank our guest speakers for joining us today to share some real-life stories and experiences that show just how vital the Combined Federal Campaign is to the well-being of people in our community and beyond.  Our sincere appreciation to:

  • Tom Burch, CFC Loan Executive;
  • Brendan Hurley, Senior VP at Goodwill of Greater Washington;
  • And Robin Kehoe, Washington Representative of the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund;

I’m sure that hearing our speakers will remind us of the people – in our community, in our nation and around the world – who really need the help we can provide through our contributions.

Certainly the need is there. In fact, the need this year has been heightened by Katrina, Rita and possibly Wilma – no ladies, for sure – by the war in Iraq, and by other events that have exacerbated the need for relief.  Many CFC charities have given food and medical supplies, or provided shelter, grief counseling, transportation and other services to the hurricane victims. And my thanks, by the way, to all the GSA associates who volunteered to assist the victims of the Gulf Coast storms.

Because of the unmet needs in our own community, the goal for 2005 is to raise 5% more than was raised in 2004.

GSA has always been very generous in contributing to those who are less fortunate. Last year, more than 4,500 associates participated, pushing our total to $625,511. This year we’re the target is $656,786.

It is a challenging goal. Given the kindness that associates have shown in the past, however --- and given the dedicated efforts of our committed campaign volunteers –  we’re confident we can meet this challenge.

As is true every year, one of the keys to our success will be how well we conduct the campaign --- how clearly we get the word to all GSA associates, answer their questions, and follow up on collecting their pledges. Statistics have shown that a direct appeal with proper follow-up can yield a participation rate of up to 75 percent.

Of course we have many associates who are dedicated, long-time contributors. They will give again this year because they know their donations truly make a difference.

There are also many associates who might be considered potential contributors. Effective communication about the CFC – about its mission, goals and impact – will hopefully persuade these associates to become actual contributors.

So, how can we help guarantee that the 2005 campaign is a success?

First, tell others how the CFC helps people. Make sure you reach all GSA associates. Address any concerns that associates may have as they make their decision to give or not give. All of us probably know someone who has been directly or indirectly helped by one of the 3,200 charities included in the CFC. These charities focus on nearly any concern or issue you can imagine: domestic violence, human and civil rights concerns; veterans’ issues; conservation and historic preservation; education and scholarships; hunger; medical research, animal abuse and so on.

We must be especially diligent in making sure that every GSA associate is asked. A past survey of federal workers found many respondents would have given, but no one asked! Take the extra step to make sure we connect with each person.

When you do, they may ask whether their donation will reach real people or wind up going to administrative costs. The answer is that 92 cents of every dollar contributed goes directly to the charitable organizations.

I know many potential contributors may feel that after providing for their own family’s needs, there isn’t a lot left to make what they might think is an “adequate” contribution.  This may include young workers just starting their careers, or workers with children in school.  They need to know that even a small contribution can make a big difference in someone’s life.

For instance:

  • A gift of $10 per pay period can improve Medicare coverage for 50 low-income elderly people.
  • A gift of $15 per pay period can provide a homebound AIDS patient with groceries for a full year.
  • And $25 a period is enough to buy four computers with adaptive equipment for blind students.

Also key is making sure potential contributors know just what to do to complete the pledge process and make a gift to the charitable organizations they want to support. Payroll deduction is a convenient and popular option that lets associates spread their contributions throughout the entire year.  And give them the status of everyday hero!

Last, we should remind everyone that giving to the less fortunate benefits the giver as well as the receiver. In any community, there are people who need a hand and those in a position to help.  When help does not come, the communities get worse. When people are willing to help, the snowball effect is positive -- everyone benefits and the entire community prospers.

Please keep all this in mind as you participate in this year’s Combined Federal Campaign.  Urge everyone to pick up and closely read the 2005 catalog that describes the charities and the causes they tackle.

Last, please be generous and encourage your fellow associates to be generous as well. As Transportation Secretary and National CFC Chairman Norman Mineta said recently, When we give to the CFC, we're making a difference in our community, the kind of difference that can touch lives in an instant.

Thank you very much.