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Proposed Changes in the Federal Government's Employee Charitable Giving Program Are Hopelessly Flawed, Will Result in Massive Loss of Funds to Charities

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - Thanks to the generosity of Federal employees, who donate through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), nearly $7 billion of unrestricted funds have been raised and additional tens of billions of dollars leveraged for charities all across the country. The CFC is among the most efficient and effective ways for government and military personnel to donate to charities that they choose to support.

Unfortunately, that money is now at risk. In an effort to streamline and provide more oversight to CFC, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has proposed new rules that will actually cost participating charities more money and impede Federal workers’ ability to donate through the CFC. The worst thing is OPM will implement these proposed changes unless enough people speak up and express their concern by this Friday, June 7, 2013.

Your action is vital. Let OPM know they need to back off of these ill-conceived changes. Go to the “Save the CFC” web site that America’s Charities has created. There you will find tools, sample messages, and directions for submitting your comments to the Federal Register along with a link to the Federal Register’s official site. Or visit the Federal Register’s website directly and express your concern.

No one denies there is room for improving the CFC, and there are parts of OPM’s proposed changes that make sense. America’s Charities noted several of these in our May 3, 2013 comments to OPM available on the “Save the CFC” website. Unfortunately the following three aspects of OPM’s proposed changes will decimate the CFC:

  1. Scant details and increased burden on participating charities. OPM’s proposed changes will increase administrative burdens and costs by way of an upfront, nonrefundable fee for charities that receive CFC donations. This could result in millions of critically needed dollars diverted from vital charity programs and services to support OPM administrative tasks. As a result, communities across the nation will suffer.

What’s worse, OPM plans to force charities to pay this “pay-to-play” fee while refusing to provide details about how much this fee will be, how it will be structured or what it will be used for. Without further information from OPM, this proposed rule appears to be exclusionary, presents barriers to participation, and will create costly administrative burdens for participating charities.

  • The majority of federal employee donors will lose the ability to support their favorite charities. During the 2012 CFC, only 20.8% of all pledges were made electronically, according to data released by OPM. Yet, OPM is proposing that the CFC become an entirely technology driven campaign and plans to eliminate all forms of paper giving and information putting nearly 80% of money currently raised in the CFC at risk.
  • Centralized Bureaucracy. The proposed new rules eliminate local volunteer control of the CFC campaigns replacing them with a centralized bureaucracy. While this may make OPM’s job easier from an audit and oversight perspective, you have to ask the question: Will the potential drop of $200 million in giving and the additional loss of $600 million to $1 billion in leveraged resources really lessen the burden of government and local communities?
  • Clearly, the answer is “no”.

    These three problems, if not addressed, will have real consequences. Meals on Wheels will have fewer dollars to provide the only nutritious meal that many seniors get each day. Homeless shelters and food pantries will have to turn away the growing number of families who have lost their jobs and homes. Veterans depending upon charities for mental health counseling and job training will have fewer opportunities for help and employment. All this can and needs to be avoided.

    The Fix. OPM seems to have myopia. They see one issue that appears in front of them; providing better oversight and control of the CFC no matter what it costs charities and people they serve. OPM needs to understand that those decisions have much broader consequences. Clearly the CFC can be managed differently and run more effectively. But these ill-conceived proposed changes have no defendable upside and require more real-world input.

    Voice your concern by this Friday, June 7 and help stop these changes. Find out how at

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    Steve Delfin is President and CEO of America’s Charities whose mission is helping charities thrive by generating sustainable income through workplace giving and additional paths by inspiring employers and individuals to reach their philanthropic goals and support the charities of their choice. America’s Charities has established a web site called Save-the-CFC which provides the tools and resources needed to file formal comments about the proposed CFC changes through the Federal Register or directly with OPM.