OPM reopens Combined Federal Campaign to support coronavirus response

Federal employees have another opportunity this year to donate to the Combined Federal Campaign, this time in support of the charities working overtime to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The Office of Personnel Management this week launched a special solicitation window for the CFC, which will run through June 30, 2020.

Federal employees, retirees, military members and Postal Service workers can donate through the CFC’s online giving portal or the mobile app. All proceeds will go directly toward one of the CFC charities, OPM said.

There are no distribution fees.

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“Officials from several federal departments and agencies recently contacted OPM and the Office of Combined Federal Campaign, asking how to do even more to help victims affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Michael Rigas, OPM’s acting director and acting deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, said Wednesday in a memo. “These officials recognize that non-profit health and human welfare organizations providing critical services during this national emergency are struggling with reduced resources.”

The Combined Federal Campaign will mostly accept online or mobile gifts, or donations made through payroll deductions. Employees can also pledge volunteer time through select CFC charities, according to OPM.

Employees can, according to OPM’s frequently-asked-questions page, mail a completed paper pledge to the central campaign administrator. But because the administrator’s facility is located in Wisconsin, there will be “significant delays” in processing paper donations, OPM said. Wisconsin is currently under a stay-at-home order, like dozens of other states.

Employees who made donations via payroll deduction during the 2019 campaign can’t increase their payroll pledges, because federal payroll providers aren’t prepared to handle those changes, OPM said. Federal employees can, however, make a separate donation through the CFC website or mobile app.

Those who didn’t donate through payroll deduction during the last campaign can make payroll pledges during this special solicitation, OPM said.

Federal employees can choose from the 6,000 charities that were part of the CFC during the 2019 campaign. The CFC will begin distributing collected funds as soon as May 15, and reoccurring donations will continue through Jan. 15, 2021.

“Federal reviewers vetted these qualified 501(c)(3) organizations, which are now working overtime assisting people who need food as well as other day-to-day needs,” Rigas said. “They also are experiencing challenges due to the pandemic. The CFC is uniquely positioned to supplement the federal government’s overall response by allowing employees to pledge additional resources to these vetted charities and to those that are actively responding throughout the world to various community needs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson will serve as the honorary CFC champion for this special donation period.

OPM administers the Combined Federal Campaign, and under statute, the director has the authority to reopen the donation window outside the typical CFC timeframe in instances of disaster or emergency.

The CFC usually kicks off in the fall and runs through the end of the calendar year or the beginning of the following one.

Donations through the Combined Federal Campaign have steadily dropped over the past several years. The national capital region alone contributed roughly $60 million a year between 2009 and 2012, but donations fell nearly every year after the 2013 government shutdown. Federal employees in the Washington metropolitan area raised a little more than $34 million in 2018.