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President Obama Authorizes OPM to Create More Opportunities for Feds to Support Community Charities

The way federal employees and retirees will participate in the Combined Federal Campaign is about to change thanks to an amendment to Executive Order 12353 President Barack Obama signed October 13.  The revised order authorizes the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to implement changes to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). These changes are significant and amount to a “game changer” for the CFC program and its stakeholders.

The two changes enable OPM to allow participation by annuitants; and introduce volunteerism through the CFC.

“These changes will allow more Federal, Postal, and military personnel to give back to their communities, whether through their checkbooks or with their time,” said Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert. “And by adding an easy option to allow our more than two million Federal annuitants to participate in the CFC through their annuities, we hope to raise even more money for these worthy causes from employees that choose to donate over the course of their career and into retirement,” said Acting Director Cobert.

While Federal employees contributed $177.8 million in 2015 and $8 billion over the past 54 years of the CFC, donations and participation in the CFC have been on a decline. The one area that has seen consistent growth in recent years is electronic giving, suggesting donors—particularly millennials—want more flexibility. Annuitant participation and CFC volunteerism fit this need. Military and civilian personnel in DoD give about $80 million annually through CFC.  

To ensure the CFC would remain relevant as an employee workplace giving benefit well into the future, OPM created an Advisory Committee in 2011, known as the CFC-50 Commission. The Commission was established to review the present structure and processes of the CFC and develop recommendations to improve and modernize the CFC, as well as enhance accountability and transparency. Background on the CFC 50 Commission which was chaired by the Hon. Thomas Davis and the Hon. Beverly Byron, is on the OPM website (

According to OPM’s Office of CFC Director Keith Willingham, allowing participation by annuitants fulfills a recommendation made in 2012 by the CFC-50 Commission.  In its final report, the Commission recommended that OPM “expand the community of individuals who can be solicited through the CFC.”  Research by the Commission during its tenure determined “many retirees would be willing to participate in the CFC if provided the means to do so.” This Executive Order authorizes the Director to solicit annuitants (Federal retirees and their survivors) and enable them to make contributions to the CFC through allotments or assignments of amounts from their Federal annuities.

In addition, the order introduces a volunteerism component in the annual CFC.  Testimony offered to the CFC-50 Commission recommended volunteer opportunities be added to the choices offered to federal employees through the CFC. Furthermore, Mr. Willingham of the OPM Office of CFC believes that the introduction of an aspect of volunteerism will allow the CFC to more appropriately engage federal employees — particularly younger employees — by offering more philanthropic giving options. This Executive Order authorizes the Director to enable pledges of volunteer time.

This Executive Order gives significantly more philanthropic options to federal employees and retirees. It will increase the reach of the CFC to over 4.7 million Federal civilian and military retirees while allowing federal employees to pledge innumerable volunteer hours to their favorite causes, substantially increasing the value for participating charities and thus their impact on communities.

These changes will take effect in September 2017. They are in addition to the major regulatory changes to 5 CFR 950 on charitable fund raising in the Federal Government which take effect January 1, 2017.

Please find the President’s order here.