Natalie Jacobsen is the senior manager of marketing and communications at the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area. She works in tandem with a superstar team of passionate marketing professionals to develop inspiring messages and materials encouraging federal employees to donate to charities. An avid advocate, traveler, plant mom, writer and photographer, she has found her dream role at Global Impact, where her interests and ambitions collide in the best possible combination. When she isn’t fervently scratching her head over her keyboard to find the right words, she’s jet-setting to push her own boundaries, learning new perspectives, ideas, and cultures – and finding moments in between to capture on notepad and film.
Global Impact has a deep and rich history with the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), dating back to the start of the campaign. Currently, we partner with Tribal Tech LLC to serve as Outreach Coordinator for 13 CFC regions around the world, including the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area. Natalie Jacobsen serves as the Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications for the CFCNCA.
Let’s admit it: This year is different from those of recent memory. But at the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area (CFCNCA), the hurdles presented are just that – hurdles that can be overcome through teamwork and by embodying the spirit of the federal community, which means always rising to meet challenges and doing whatever it takes to help those in need.
The CFCNCA is the official workplace giving campaign for the federal community in the Washington metropolitan area. The campaign offers federal employees and retirees the opportunity to support the causes they care about by giving to their charity (or charities) of choice from the thousands that participate.
I have the privilege of developing and implementing the CFCNCA’s marketing strategy and have been part of the team navigating the changes brought by this year – namely, how to convert a historically in-person campaign into an almost entirely virtual effort. After years of relying on tried and true best practices, our team has been forced into a new era of fundraising, working quickly to innovate longstanding, traditional outreach methods into adaptive efforts before the launch of the campaign. The team has been working hard to plan a blockbuster kickoff that offers all of the same excitement, energy and (even more) engagement for federal donors and supporters as previous events – all of which will be virtual!
And that’s the heart of why the team is excited to be part of the campaign. When people come together through the CFC, they can make a true difference in countless lives – most of whom they’ll never meet. This year, coming together often means connecting by video conference, symbolically represented through the campaign’s mosaic of faces on promotional materials.
The 2020 CFC is all about change. The campaign team is embracing this opportunity to be part of the change, rather than shy away from it. And the CFC is inviting the extended federal community to be part of that change to make a difference for those who need it most.
That’s also the message behind their 2020 campaign theme: Be the Face of Change, which builds on the historical brand, Show Some Love, with both messages complementing one another as they exemplify the federal community’s devotion of service.
In the past, the CFCNCA designated one day each September to launch the annual campaign with a kick-off event held at a premier location open to hundreds of attendees. This year, in consideration for the health and safety of the federal community, the campaign is moving online – which has presented the opportunity to plan unique events across an entire week in celebration of the 2020 campaign!
Though we may be apart, there are now five days and multiple ways anyone can get involved and attend this year’s CFCNCA Kickoff. That’s the beauty of it – there are few limits to what we can do when we move to a virtual platform! The CFCNCA is excited to host a number of engaging events throughout the week to entertain supporters, train campaign workers, introduce CFC charities to attendees, and invite all federal employees and retirees to Be the Face of Change and make a difference through the 2020 campaign.
Take a look at the week-long calendar of events to see what the CFCNCA has in store:
- Monday, Sept. 21: Welcome to the 2020 CFCNCA!
Follow along on the CFCNCA’s official social media channels to watch a video from campaign leadership introducing this year’s theme and inviting all to meet their campaign managers. Look for two contest announcements applicable to events throughout the week!
- Tuesday, Sept. 22: Be the Face of Change
It’s kickoff day! You’re invited to celebrate the 2020 CFCNCA and Be the Face of Change to someone in need. Tune in on the CFCNCA website, YouTube channel, Facebook or Instagram account to watch the live broadcast at 10 a.m. sharp. You’ll hear from leadership and CFC charities, watch performances and Show Some Love with the CFC community far and wide!
- Wednesday, Sept. 23: CFC 2020
Learn all about what it means to Be the Face of Change and how the CFCNCA will operate and engage with donors virtually for 2020. Campaign veterans, the marketing team and leadership will all take part to impart crucial knowledge and information to run a campaign.
- Thursday, Sept. 24: CFCNCA Charity Panel
Get to know some of the approved CFC charities in a lunchtime webinar! Thousands of CFC charities represent hundreds of causes important to all of us. They’ll present their work and share stories on how generous support from CFC donors matters to them.
- Friday, Sept. 25: Thank You
Follow the CFCNCA’s official social media channels to see the federal community’s next steps to give, volunteer, and engage with the CFC through early January 2021. We’ve come together, and now it’s time to Be the Face of Change, putting all we’ve learned this week to work through making motions.
How you can host a virtual event, too
At first, the CFCNCA team felt a great deal of nostalgia for our fun, in-person events that took us out of the offices and brought us together for an inspiring morning of speeches, training and activities. Instead, we’ve found a treasure trove of new and interesting methods we can implement to engage even more of our community than ever before as we embrace this opportunity to change our outreach and approach in launching our campaign. What we were nervous about has evolved into our most anticipated kickoff in years!
There is so much to learn about hosting events and launching campaigns in a mostly virtual environment. It’s important to routinely develop your own internal best practices and track trials and errors along the way.
Even the CFCNCA staff is still learning! Here are some upfront tools and steps we followed that others may want to consider when planning their own virtual event:
- Understand your audience: Your audience may be accustomed to an event run in a certain type of way. Consider their expectations and how you can still reach them – wherever they may be. Research and get an understanding of their commitment and bandwidth. Put out feelers and gauge interest levels to see how they’d respond to a change of plans.
- Have a vision: Once you’ve determined expectations and interest of your target audience, it’s time to adapt your plans. The sky is the limit! Going back to the drawing board is an opportunity to innovate and do something you’ve never done before, potentially pulling in new audiences and having a larger impact along the way. Dream big. Be creative. Introduce new technologies, push boundaries and explore fun and engaging ways to captivate your audience, even from afar. The best way? Get the whole team involved in a roundtable discussion to be inclusive and open the door to the widest potential possible.
- Maximize your resources: Now is the time to reach out to your networks and ask for help. Someone else might know about a virtual resource you’re unaware of, or someone on your team could have a hidden talent to utilize in this new venture. Determine your options, and assign roles early for task management – have weekly or even daily meetings to discuss findings with your team so all are on the same page and aware of resources available.
- Trial and error: Your team may not have best practices developed going into a new plan, and that’s okay! This is the time to learn and make new ones. Practice, practice, practice before you go live or before your event takes place; it will help curb the amount of glitches and wrinkles on the day-of and taper team expectations. Know what works and what doesn’t. Prepare in advance for things to go wrong, and know what your backup plan is in those potential scenarios.
- Be positive and flexible: This is your new mantra. Feeling doom and gloom over the possibility of things going awry will only set you up for failure. Believe in your team and those around you –they want to succeed as much as you do! Be ready to change or adapt plans on the fly. Implement back-up plans as needed, and be ready to spring into action. Learn to work cohesively through team building exercises to get you on the same page – the path to success.
These steps are the building blocks of a general outline that staff at the CFCNCA have developed early on to help prepare and appropriately organize event tasks. Your steps may look a little different. Most importantly, it’s essential to have fun!
This year’s challenges have prompted us all to navigate a new fundraising landscape and innovate all that we were used to doing on a daily basis. The silver lining is that the CFCNCA team has grown closer through this learning experience, despite not being in the office together. We don’t know when we will be able to return, so the best advice we’re following is to be positive and flexible as we ride this journey together.
The 2020 CFCNCA Kickoff is only the beginning. Through Jan. 15, 2021, the greater federal community is invited to join the CFC and help those in need. Follow campaign progress and learn how you can get involved and stay engaged with the CFC, and Be the Face of Change, by visiting GiveCFC.org today.
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