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Donations to Feds’ Annual Giving Drive Remain Flat in 2020, and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

After a decade of sharp declines, last year’s iteration of the federal government’s annual charity giving campaign treaded water, according to statistics from the Office of Personnel Management.

The Combined Federal Campaign raised just $83.6 million for local, national and international charities last year, with $81.6 million in monetary donations and $2 million worth of volunteer hours. That marks a slight decline from the $83.8 million feds donated through the campaign in 2019, although it does not include the $2.5 million donated by federal employees as part of a special solicitation for COVID-19 relief that was conducted between April and June 2020.

The Combined Federal Campaign has struggled to maintain relevancy over the last decade. In 2009, the charity giving drive raised $281.5 million. The portion of federal workers participating in the campaign has also fallen, from one in four in 2009 to one in 25 by 2018.

Last year, federal employees continued to change how they contribute, with 86% of feds choosing to make their pledges online.

“I want to thank all of the federal, postal, military personnel and retirees who participated in and donated to this cycle’s CFC,” said acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan, in a statement. “The CFC is uniquely positioned to help support those in need, especially during this extremely tough time as we’re still combating COVID-19 worldwide. I am very proud of the hard work that CFC teams at every federal department and agency put in to adjust to fundraising in a virtual environment.”

Earlier this month, OPM announced an additional special charity donation drive for 30 days to help victims of the winter storm that left millions without power and water in Texas last month. That solicitation will run until April 9.

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, a bipartisan group of lawmakers last week reintroduced legislation to make it so that federal firefighters can trade shifts more easily, without fear of disrupting their biweekly paychecks.

Unlike state and locally employed firefighters, firefighters at federal agencies, who work 24-hour shifts and 72-hour work weeks followed by longer periods of time off, in many cases cannot trade shifts if those shifts fall into different pay periods. Due to current rules, when shift trades occur across pay periods, the shift that firefighters give away is deducted from their regular paycheck, and the shift that they pick up triggers overtime pay requirements. As a result, many agencies forbid shift trading altogether.

Under the Federal Firefighter Flexibility and Fairness Act (S. 838), the trading of shifts by federal firefighters across multiple pay periods would not impact their timesheets, ensuring that they would continue to be paid regularly. It also would not impact firefighters’ ability to make overtime on extra shifts they pick up on top of their normal schedules.

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