Those of you in the D.C. area (or anyone working in federal government or the military) may have noticed that the Combined Federal Campaign starts up today. The Combined Federal Campaign is simply a workplace charity campaign, where you can choose a charity (or a few charities), and have donations to that charity taken out of your paycheck every pay period. I am sure a number of other organizations do this, and what a great way to give. You don’t have to do anything, just fill out a form at the beginning of the year, and you’re done.
Am I participating in the CFC this year? I’m not sure that I am, to be honest. Why? Well, for a few reasons.
First, for anyone thinking of participating in this or other workplace charity campaigns, please be sure to check out your charity before you donate. Just because they’re on the list of available charities does not guarantee everything. Again this year, Charity Navigator has published an article regarding the failure to vet the charities included in the CFC. Their research shows that many of those charities are not in good financial health and some spend less than 50% of their donations on charity programs and services. Of course, this does not mean that you shouldn’t contribute in such a program. Charity Navigator also points out that there are some “stellar” CFC charities. But be sure to do your own research before opting in.
I frequently struggle with what charities to donate to. There are a lot of worthy causes out there, and especially in this economic climate, there are a lot of groups in need of donations, from local groups to international groups, from groups working for human rights to groups working for the environment. And there are a lot of great charities supporting all of these causes.
Rather than select one charity for a recurring donation through the CFC this year, I think I am going to set aside a specific amount of money every month and every few months, decide which charity I want it to go to. That way, I can also bundle it with the funds I’m donating from blog proceeds to make a slightly larger donation. I realize that the benefit to the charity of the CFC is that they know they can count on your donation, so it makes it easier to plan, but I’m happier donating to a variety of charities throughout the year. Additionally, I will be more likely to donate a bit more.
I do admit, I’m not looking forward to the part of the CFC campaign that involves coworkers running around and “not pestering” me for donations. By that, I mean that they’re not allowed to use pressure, but you certainly can’t avoid being asked or encouraged to return your form. Last year, I felt so stingy! I donate. Just on my own terms.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.