Roman Sigaev/

Federal Charity Drive Sees Falling Donations, Participation Rates

Feds give 5.3 percent less through CFC; military has highest participation.

This story has been updated with comment from OPM. 

Federal employees pledged 5.3 percent less in the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign than they did in 2011, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management. 

Representatives from OPM emailed the results on Friday to local administrative personnel in the CFC. The full data set—obtained by Government Executive—showed that 848,150 federal employees contributed $258.3 million to the 2012 CFC effort.

That’s a $14.3 million drop from the $272.7 million that 959,210 feds gave in 2011, and the $281.5 million given in 2010. According to the data, approximately 4 million feds were solicited in 2012, and the overall participation rate was around 21 percent.

The average gift was $304.50, and uniformed personnel had the highest participation rates in last year’s charity drive. Nearly 475,000 military personnel—or 21.8 percent of those solicited—contributed to the 2012 campaign.  There were 276,818 employees at other federal agencies who contributed, along with 96,620 members of the U.S Postal Service.

An OPM spokeswoman who asked not to be named said the agency does not track reasons employees participate in or abstain from the voluntary program. Despite the declines, she said, 2012 was "still among the top ten highest years of giving."

Only 3 of the 10 largest campaigns managed to grow their total pledges from 2011 to 2012, and slowly at that.  Those campaigns included the San Antonio Area CFC, the South Hampton Roads CFC and the Metropolitan Atlanta CFC.  The CFC of the National Capital Area, which represents many Washington-area federal employees, received 4.5 percent fewer pledges in 2012 than in 2011.

Members of some local campaign committees were thrilled with the results.  Michael Rhodes, the director of the Combined Federal Campaign-Overseas, which represents many civilian and uniformed personnel, said in an April 18 statement that the contributions “[help] shelter the homeless, rehabilitate wounded warriors and educate the next generation.”

Rhodes added: “These numbers tell an incredible story of a continued spirit of giving and a demonstrable extension of service to better the lives of others.” 

The results come as OPM is looking to revamp the federal charity drive following the publication of the CFC-50 report, which outlined key reforms. In early April, OPM published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to help bolster participation, increase accountability and transparency. "The proposed rule would assure that 100 percent of employee contributions go to the charity," the OPM spokeswoman said. 

(Image via Roman Sigaev/