As the 2014 Combined Federal Campaign kicks into high gear, federal employees and campaigns across the country believe they will bounce back from the record-low donations of 2013.

Last year a prolonged government shutdown and extensive furloughs cut donations to the lowest levels in more than 15 years — falling from $258.3 million in 2012 to less than $210 million in 2013. But while campaigns are optimistic they will beat last year's goals, contributions might not reach earlier years.

Lou Nistler, the executive director of the National Capital Area CFC, said last year was a unique situation and giving fell because federal workers were concerned about the personal impact the shutdown and budget cuts might have.

"I'm convinced that the 2014 campaign will meet, and likely surpass, what we raised last year," Nistler said. "We can count on them to again support their favorite causes through the CFC."

Donations within the National Capital Area CFC fell from $61 million in 2012 to $51 million in 2013. This year's campaign goal is set at $52 million, but Nistler thinks the campaign will exceed that.

James Fish, the chairman of the Central California CFC, said their goal this year was to beat last year's $629,000 in donations. The campaign is aiming for $800,000 in donations.

"I am not worried that the donations will drop even further this year," Fish said. "Our federal employees know the impact of the CFCon the local community and I feel in my heart, they will rise to the challenge this year."

While the overall Combined Federal Campaign does not set any goals, local campaigns are off to a good start this year, said CFC Director Keith Willingham.

He said local campaigns set individual strategies and timelines for soliciting contributions, and it is still too early to tell if there are any increases or decreases in giving.

Lisa Makosewski, executive director of the Eastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey CFC, said last year's campaign was a struggle to overcome the challenges of the shutdown and the widespread furloughs of employees.

"We have not had those difficulties this year, and we are optimistic that we will exceed last year's totals," she said.

Chris Conklin, the executive director of the Hawaii-Pacific Area CFC, said he was hopeful the campaign will meet or exceed its goals.

"The government shutdown and other financial/budgetary pressures on federal agencies and employees made the 2013 campaign especially challenging, and we are hopeful that the 2014 campaign will not be as disrupted," Conklin said.

Roxanne Hosein, the vice chair of the New York City CFC, said while overall donations fell by 19 percent in 2013, donations in the local New York City CFC fell by only 2 percent. Last year the CFC raised $1.9 million and set a $2 million goal for 2014.

"Our agency leaders have given their support in our CFC efforts and our key workers are engaged. We are confident that we will meet our goal and hopeful in exceeding the plan," she said.

Elizabeth Comeau, the director of the Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts CFC, said the campaign only saw a 10-percent drop in 2013 instead of the national average of 19 percent. She attributed the drop to the government shutdown, which forced the CFC to cancel all but one of its kickoff events.

But she said she was confident the campaign would exceed last year's levels, and that the 2014 kickoff season has been a success so far.■