Concerned that they are about to be crossed off the government's "I-gave-at-the-office" list, several minority and women's rights groups urged President Reagan yesterday to head off what they say is a move by the Office of Personnel Management to kick them out of Uncle Sam's annual Combined Federal Campaign charity drive.
In a letter to Reagan -- sent under the letterhead of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and signed by nine other organizations -- the groups said OPM director Donald J. Devine wants to revise the campaign's eligibility guidelines to cut off voluntary payroll deduction contributions to public-interest and social-action organizations.
In a statement, Devine said yesterday that no changes have been made yet in campaign rules for the 1982 drive. But his office conceded that proposed OPM changes in charity eligibility, which the agency refused to detail, are being circulated at the White House and the Office of Management and Budget.
Devine said, "Officials in the administration are, indeed, looking at the question of whether the campaign should be restricted to traditional charities, dealing in health and welfare, or whether the program should include political- advocacy groups which spend much of their efforts to advance political causes."
Reagan was out of town yesterday and a White House spokesman said he had not seen the letter.
The campaign collects more than $82 million each year, including more than $12 million in the Washington area, for such charities as the United Way, CARE, Planned Parenthood and hundreds of other national and local social aid groups. Federal employes may designate a particular organization to receive their contributions, but two-thirds of the government's workforce usually chooses to make contributions to the combined campaign for distribution to all the participating groups under an OPM formula.
There has been increasing pressure and litigation in recent years to expand the number of groups that can participate in the employe contribution drive, and last year 300 organizations newly admitted to the campaign receivedd more than $1 million from federal employes.
Arguing that Devine's expected eligibility restrictions "would make a mockery of your administration's commitment both to free enterprise and to private voluntarism as solutions to the country's problems," the groups writing to Reagan said federal employes should be allowed to choose their charities.
"The question you should ask Mr. Devine is: 'How do you give the government back to the people when the government tells the people (in this case millions of federal and military employes) they can support only a few types of charities?' " the letter said.
The letter was signed by such groups as the American Foundation for the Blind, National Black United Fund, Indian Law Resource Center and the National Organization of Women Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Under Devine, OPM already has been accused of trying to find a way to drop Planned Parenthood from the government's charity list because affiliates of the family planning organization perform abortions.
Devine allowed the combined campaign to conduct its current 1981 drive after concluding last June that it was too late to revise eligibility criteria. But he said then he was determined that the next charity campaign would be conducted with "clearer direction and more precise standards."
Devine said yesterday he feared there would be "no limit" to advocacy groups seeking donations if permitted to do so, adding that their presence "would change fundamentally the nature of charitable giving" through the combined campaign.