The workplace giving program for federal employees will begin later than usual this year, kicking off Oct. 2 and running through Jan. 12, 2018. It cuts a month out of the giving cycle.
Kathleen McGettigan, acting director, of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which administers the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), announced the new start date. “The start time is about a month later than in previous years as was recommended by the CFC-50 Commission in its report of July 2012,” she said. “This will allow local campaign zones time to organize their engagement strategies in order to incorporate” changes that took effect this year.
The specific dates will be for this year only, according to an OPM spokesperson. Dates in future years will be between the start and end times set in the regulations, which allow the director of OPM to set the campaign dates between Sept. 1 and Jan. 15. Last year’s campaign ran from Sept. 1 to through Dec. 31. A 15-day federal government shutdown in 2013 led to the CFC acting director extending the solicitation period by a month, from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15.
OPM extended the application deadline for the 2017 CFC two times this year, first pushing it from Jan. 31 to Feb. 28, and then again to March 17. In a memo in February, McGettigan said the response to the application system “has been tremendous” but also “found some misunderstanding among charities about the new application process.”
New regulations that took effect in January came out of recommendations in July 2012 by the CFC-50 Commission. Some changes were made after nearly 1,400 comments were received during the public comment period, which ended in June 2013. The new rules proposals were finalized in April 2014 and were to take effect in January 2016 but were pushed back a year.
Contributions through the CFC have declined each year since 2009, when it reached a high of $282.6 million. Contributions were reported as $167 million last year, down about 6 percent from $177.8 million in 2015.
OPM contracted with The Give Back Foundation, the central campaign administrator, or CCA, to develop and deploy a new national CFC donor pledging system, according to McGettigan. The new system replaces electronic CFC modules in Employee Express and myPay, as well as a variety of local systems.
It’s hard to say how the delay will impact charities but whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, will be felt most by participating charities, said Jim Starr, CEO of America’s Charities.
“October is a critical month for workplace giving so the fact that it will launch in October is a good thing. We can take advantage of that,” Starr said. “November and December have all the holiday breaks in there, that can be difficult. Extending it into January should be positive as well, continuing to give through the end of the year as well as into January,” he said.
America’s Charities in Chantilly, Va., has about 140 nonprofits as members for which it helps to raise money. The critical aspect of any campaign, and CFC in particular, is how well it will be marketed to employees to maximize engagement, Starr said. “That will be more critical to success,” he said.
“Our member charities are anxious to get started and get the message out to federal employees. This is a very important campaign,” Starr said, raising millions of dollars for their causes.