The Office of Personnel Management has postponed the deadline for federal employees to contribute to the Combined Federal Campaign, giving furloughed and exempt workers an opportunity to donate to charities only after they’ve been paid following the shutdown.
“Out of consideration to furloughed or exempt employees who may wish to participate, the extension will last one month following the end of the shutdown,” an OPM spokesperson said Wednesday in an email.
Jeanan Yasiri Moe, chairwoman of the Total Administrative Services Corporation’s Give Back Foundation, which offers logistical support for the CFC, said staff at OPM have kept in touch on a “very regular basis” to make sure the online donation portal remains operational during the shutdown.
“We recognize that there was obviously the potential for the shutdown to negatively impact the campaign,” Moe said in an interview. “We want to do everything we can to keep this open.”
OPM acting director Margaret Weichert on Jan. 15 approved extending the 2018 CFC solicitation period, reversing course on a memo Keith Willingham, the director of the agency’s CFC office, had issued before the start of the shutdown.
“Owing to the pressing need to have payroll offices process all 2019 CFC pledges, under no circumstances will the 2019 solicitation period be extended beyond its current date January 11, 2019,” Willingham wrote in the Dec. 18 memo.
The memo also forbids local federal coordinating committees from conducting CFC business, including “CFC meetings, the review of campaign expenditures and invoices related to preparation for events to be held once appropriations are restored.”
Despite extending the CFC donation window, Moe said TASC has agreed to keep staff answering calls and monitoring website and email traffic at no additional cost to OPM.
“We’ve got a bank of people that are available during the entirety of the campaign to keep it moving and operating at a very smooth and streamlined manner,” she said. “And we’re continuing that without in any way suggesting that there would be additional costs associated with that.”
Prior to the shutdown, TASC had forecasted a 5-to-10 percent growth in donations compared to the same period last year.
This year, the Washington metro area’s CFC campaign had a goal of raising $38 million. Through the CFC’s online portal, federal employees can donate to nearly 8,000 charities.
However, with most impacted federal employees now expecting to miss their second paycheck on Friday, TASC and the OPM want to avoid the shutdown putting a damper on the CFC’s donation goals.
“The downstream effects of having the world’s largest employee workplace campaign be impacted are potentially tremendous,” Moe said. “We want to do everything that we can to make sure that donations are able to be made as easily as possible.”
Pledge deductions will begin in the first full pay period after Jan. 15. Federal employees can also still choose to make a donation through a credit or debit card, or through their bank account, which would go out immediately.
“If people are in a position where they feel they have always made a pledge and they want to continue to honor that, recognizing that the shutdown will end at some point, we presume, they can go online and they can make a pledge.”
President Donald Trump last week signed the bill guaranteeing back pay to more than 800,000 exempted and furloughed employees.