The world’s largest workplace charitable giving program—the Combined Federal Campaign—has come to a standstill as a result of the government shutdown.
The effort is a lifeline to many Washington area charities and works through federal agencies to encourage workers to contribute through automatic deductions in their paychecks.
Because of the shutdown, many agencies have been forced to cancel fundraising events and other activities to rally federal workers to participate in the program. And there are no federal officials to oversee the effort, as employees responsible for the program at the Office of Personnel Management are among those who have been furloughed. An OPM spokesman said because they are furloughed, they are prohibited from even commenting on the shutdown.
Some 130,000 federal employees gave $61.6 million to 4,470 local nonprofits last year and a total of $2 billion in the last 52 years.
Recipients said they are not just worried about the shutdown. They fear some workers may have less money to contribute if they do no recoup lost pay due to the furloughs.
The shutdown comes at a key time. Campaign officials had hoped to spend the next two two week training federal employees on how to manage fundraising efforts. The State Department cancelled its fundraising event Tuesday, and others were supposed to take place later this week.
“A large majority of our member organizations receive CFC dollars and is a big deal for them,” said Glen O’Gilvie, chief executive of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, an organization with nearly 1,000 local nonprofit members. “To lose what could come from CFC poses a great challenge and risk for our members to perform the human services that they perform every day.”
DC Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that recycles food and distributes them to people in need, brings in about $250,000 or 5 percent of its philanthropic budget from the CFC each year. Losing those funds could “leave a hole that we budget for because it has been so consistent,” said Michael Curtin, chief executive of DC Central Kitchen. “A lot of air is going to go out of that balloon if people are losing their paychecks.”
This year’s fundraising season runs through Dec. 15.