OPM Announces Delay, Changes to Combined Federal Campaign

Cash donations through bake sales will no longer be accepted. Cash donations through bake sales will no longer be accepted.

The Office of Personnel Management announced it is delaying the start of the federal government’s annual charity fundraising drive until Oct. 2, along with a number of other changes.

In past years, the Combined Federal Campaign has opened at the beginning of September. The guidance, released this month by acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan, does not shorten the campaign’s length, as it extends the deadline by one month compared with previous years until Jan. 12, 2018.

According to the memo, the change is in accordance with recommendations made by the CFC-50 Commission, a panel to study possible improvements to the program in light of its 50th anniversary in 2012.

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“This will allow local campaign zones time to organize their engagement strategies in order to incorporate … beneficial key changes,” the memo stated. 

In an effort to shore up giving through the annual effort, President Obama signed an executive order in October 2016 to make it easier for federal employees to help nonprofits through the CFC. The order allowed feds to make non-monetary pledges to volunteer their time at CFC charities, and it allowed federal retirees to make contributions through their annuities. Many federal employees donate to the effort through an automatic deduction from their paychecks.

The changes came after the campaign saw decreases in donations every year since 2009. That trend continued in the 2016 CFC, which saw a total of $167 million in giving, down from $178 million in 2015.

The OPM memo implements the provisions of Obama’s executive order, and it introduces a new centralized electronic pledging system. Developed by The Give Back Foundation, the new system will replace Employee Express, myPay and a number of local tools.

The new system means electronic giving will be available to all federal civilian, postal and military personnel. Access to online donations previously depended on whether an agency used a particular set of payroll providers. And the new system will disclose all fees up front before a donor pledges support to a charity.

But with the advent of the new system, one popular method for raising money will disappear from the 2017 CFC: cash donations at events like bake sales. Agencies still can host events to encourage giving through the CFC, but they “will focus on increasing employee awareness of CFC charities and their mission, not cash fundraising,” the guidance said. 

This year’s effort also marks the beginning of a five-year phasing out of paper-based pledging, which is intended to reduce costs and to comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act. OPM will release procedures for handling paper pledges later this summer, they said.

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