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Logo for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC)
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is a program allowing certain charitable organizations to solicit contributions from employees of the Federal Government of the United States.

The mission of the CFC is to promote and support philanthropy through a program that is employee focused, cost-efficient, and effective in providing all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.

Established in 1961, the CFC is the largest workplace charity campaign in the United Statesmarker and the only campaign authorized to solicit and collect contributions from federal employees in the workplace on behalf of charitable organizations. As the world's largest and most successful annual workplace giving campaign, each year, more than 350 CFC campaigns throughout the United States and internationally help to raise millions of dollars. Nearly four million federal employees and military personnel are able to contribute to the charities of their choice during the annual charity drive, which runs from September 1 through December 15 of each year. Pledges made by Federal civilian, postal, and military donors during the campaign season support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world. These contributions can be made either by cash or check, or can be automatically deducted from these employee's paycheck. Federal employees created the original CFC-One campaign. Established by a Presidential Executive Order signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, it continues to be the largest and most successful workplace fundraising model in the world.

The Director of Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has designated to the Office of CFC Operations (OCFCO) responsibility for day to day management of the CFC. OPM is accountable for assuring Federal employees that their designations will be honored and distributed to the charitable organization of their choice, and that all charitable organizations listed in the CFC have met strict eligibility requirements on an annual basis. OPM's Office of Combined Federal Campaign Operations works closely with the Local Federal Coordinating Committee (LFCC) in each campaign area to fulfill this responsibility. LFCCs act as the campaign's "Board of Directors", and as such, have direct oversight of the finances and conduct of the CFC in their community.

Charities included in the CFC are organizations with status as tax-exempt charities as determined by the Internal Revenue Service under Section 501 of Title 26 of the United States Code that provide health and human services, and that are determined to be eligible for participation in the CFC. Organizations may apply and be listed in the CFC brochure as either a local, national, or an international unaffiliated organization, or as a member of a local, national, or international federation. Charities that apply to receive funds through the CFC are required to submit to extensive review of their financial and governance practices prior to acceptance. This eligibility review has helped set standards for participation in giving initiatives that transcend the community.

The Combined Federal Campaign annually reviews charities wishing to participate, applying strict criteria designed to ensure that donated money truly reaches those in need. The OCFCO reviews applications for the national and international lists; the individual campaigns review applications for the local listings. To be listed as an eligible CFC charity, an organization must, among other requirements:

  • Be tax exempt under IRS Code 501(c)3.
  • Demonstrate that it provides services, benefits, or assistance to, or conducts activities affecting, human health and welfare.
  • If a local charity, have a dedicated office that is open at least 15 hours a week, and a dedicated phone number.
  • Provide its latest IRS 990 tax return.
  • Account for its funds in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and be audited by an independent certified public accountant in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS).
  • Produce and make available to the public an annual report that describes its activities and identifies its directors/governing body and chief administrative personnel.
  • Provide information on how much of its revenue is spent on administration and fundraising. (Organizations were capped at 25 percent until the 2006 campaign, but are now allowed to spend more)
  • Be governed by a board or other similar body that is active and responsible and whose members have no material conflict of interest. A majority of this governing body must also serve without compensation.
  • Prohibit the sale or lease of CFC donor names.
  • Provide a 25-word statement of the service that they provide, which will be included in the campaign Agency Guide (also known as the "Catalog of Caring").


To qualify as a national or international group, charities must demonstrate that they provide or conduct real services, benefits, assistance or program activities in at least 15 states (counted over a three year period) or a foreign country. Local groups must similarly demonstrate their presence in the specific community.

Terrorist screening controversy

In 2004, the program added a new requirement that all organizations participating in the CFC must certify that they screen all of their employees against government-created blacklists, intended to identify people involved in "terrorist activities". This resulted in the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) resigning from the CFC July 31, 2004, because such checks violate their principles. In November 2004, the ACLU and 12 other non-profit organizations filed a lawsuit challenging this policy. Since then, in November 2005, the OCFCO has put out revised requirements. The new regulation requires that each federation, federation member, and un-affiliated organization applying for participation in the CFC must, as a condition of participation, complete a certification that it is in compliance with all statutes, Executive orders, and regulations restricting or prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in transactions and dealings with countries, entities, or individuals subject to economic sanctions administered by the U.S.marker Department of the Treasurymarker’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In essence, the charities have to certify that the organizations that they support are not considered terrorist organizations by the US Government. While the ACLU is not in the CFC for 2005, these revised requirements seem to have satisfied most of the charities who complained. In 2007, the ACLU returned to the CFC.

References

  • "ACLU and Coalition Challenge Government Watch List Policy", Civil Liberties (The ACLU national newsletter), Winter 2005.


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