The agency that assists state employees’ giving to local nonprofits is holding a masquerade ball at the Capitol Rotunda on Saturday evening in Olympia. The 7 p.m. event helps pay expenses of the Combined Fund Drive, which is working to collect upward of $5.3 million in 2014 to pass on to local charities.
The ball is sponsored by Combined Fund Drive and state Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation. Cost is $50 per person or $75 per couple in advance or $65 per person at the door.
Fund project manager Philip Kerrigan said the CFD collects funds on behalf of 4,000 charities using automatic payroll deductions, and it hit a peak of just below $6 million a little before the economic downturn.
The Great Recession cut into charitable giving nationally and locally – and the fund’s cash flow dipped in 2012 to $5.03 million from $5.24 million one year earlier, according to CFD’s recent annual reports. [The 2012 report is here.]
Charities that are top recipients of aid in pledges made last year are Northwest Harvest at $169,923 and the Thurston County Food Bank at $139,304. The single biggest recipient of pledges in 2013 is the fund itself, which could receive $332,275 to help defray operating expenses.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman is chairing this year’s fund drive, which is under the oversight of her agency. In a video made to urge people to donate, Wyman says that $2 million more could be raised each year if every state employee gave $2 more per pay period.
Employees of the University of Washington have been the largest single donor statewide in recent years, pledging almost $2.12 million for 2013. Those at the Department of Social and Health Services pledged the most for 2013 among state agencies with $507,018, followed by Department of Transportation with $312,479.
The number of donors overall is in decline since 2001, however – hitting a peak of 29,470 in 2001 and dropped to under 17,000 in 2011. But Kerrigan said technology is changing how people give, making it easier to make automatic contributions as individuals.
This fall’s outlook for pledges for 2014 payroll collections is looking up, Kerrigan said. He credited his army of 875 volunteers in agencies statewide that drum up interest. The financial squeeze for many is lessening and furloughs that cut most general-government employees’ pay and hours by 3 percent ended in June.
“We have actually seen a stabilization (in collections) … We’re still at a $5 million to $5.3 million trajectory this year. In terms of the national picture, (CFD) completely bucks the trend. Most of the other giving programs are still struggling, especially ones like (ours),’’ Kerrigan said.
As it has for several years, the Combined Fund Drive effort ranks high compared to other states – trailing only those programs in highly populated states “Based on our research so far we are actually fourth in the country in giving by state employees. The only states that beat us are Texas, New York and California,” Kerrigan said.