Federal Charity Drive Overhaul Proposals Draw Criticism

photastic/Shutterstock.com

A plan to reform the Combined Federal Campaign in response to declining donations would cause the charity drive to lose its local appeal and increase overhead costs, stakeholders told lawmakers this week.

Representatives from various charities echoed members of the House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census in criticizing several potential regulatory changes to the CFC. The Office of Personnel Management put forth 13 proposals to improve the CFC in April after several years of declining donations.

Panelists and expert witnesses expressed the most apprehension over a plan to consolidate local federal coordinating committees into regional offices with larger purviews.

“I believe that removing local control of campaigns will alienate donors in smaller communities by making them think they are just giving away their hard earned dollars to a bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.,” said Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., who spoke as a witness at the Wednesday hearing.

Some organizations expressed fear the change would prevent the local connection that often serves as an effective way to encourage federal employees to donate.

“The reorganization of the campaign will mean less opportunity to meet face to face with employees and share our agency’s mission,” said Ju’Coby Pittman, CEO and president of the Clara White Mission, a charity that assists low-income individuals in Jacksonville, Fla.

The witnesses said an OPM proposal to institute an enrollment fee for charities that wish to participate in the giving drive lacked specificity and would result in undue overhead that would in turn drive away potential donors.  They also said the elimination of cash and check donations -- which OPM called for -- would rule out many federal workers without access to or a sense of comfort with online giving.

Mark Lambert, OPM’s associate director for merit system accountability and compliance, said only a small percentage of donors still send in their donations using cash or checks -- and the change would significantly reduce costs by eliminating many processing and printing expenses.

The lawmakers praised federal employees for their donations, saying the drop off -- CFC raised $258.3 million in 2012, down from $282.6 million in 2009 -- may be attributable to circumstance rather than organizational flaws.

Federal employees’ “generosity has continued even in the face of a challenging budget climate, a federal pay freeze since 2011, sequestration, layoffs, buyouts, furloughs and legislation targeting their pay and benefits,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in testimony delivered by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.

Stakeholders did not reject all of OPM’s proposals and expressed an openness to make some changes. They largely accepted ideas such as altering the solicitation period and creating a disaster relief program to allow employees to donate within hours of a catastrophe.

Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, the subcommittee’s chairman, said he was “troubled by several aspects” of proposed regulations, but added he supported some changes.

“With giving at an all-time low, it’s clear that changes need to be made to bring workers back in the fold and back to donating,” Farenthold said.

Lambert emphasized the proposals could still be revised and improved before final implementation.

“There’s a lot we don’t know yet,” he told the panel. “The regulations themselves are meant to be a general framework.” 

(Image via photastic/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.