Hundreds of federal workers on Thursday attended a kickoff event for the Combined Federal Campaign at the National Institutes of Health, providing a boost for a charitable giving program that has suffered declining contributions in recent years.

The government shutdown put a temporary damper on the campaign, which allows federal workers to donate money to their favorite charities. The 16-day closure kept civil servants from receiving pay and forced many agencies to cancel fundraising events.

(Courtesy of Combined Federal Contribution) (Courtesy of Combined Federal Contribution)

Now those employees are receiving back pay, and some of their agencies are rescheduling their CFC events.

More than 400 people and 30 charities attended the event on Thursday at the National Institutes of Health, according to agency spokeswoman Shuly Babitz.

The CFC, created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, normally begins Sept. 1 and lasts through Dec. 15. The Office of Personnel Management extended the deadline to Jan. 15 for this cycle as a result of the shutdown.

The program has brought in more than $7 billion to charities during its history, making it one of the world’s largest workplace giving programs.

Contributions toward the CFC have declined in recent years, dropping from $283 million in 2009 to $258 million in 2012, according to congressional aides.

OPM proposed new guidelines for the program in April based on recommendations from a special commission. The proposals could affect a wide range of CFC policies, including from how the government admits charities to when and how federal employees can make contributions.

Some of the recommendations are controversial. During a July hearing to discuss improving the numbers, leaders of several charitable organizations said the OPM proposals would further reduce giving.

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