Employee participation in a federally sponsored charity campaign plunged sharply in 2013, even more deeply than the drop in pledges from the workforce.

The federal worker participation rate in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) fell 22.9 percent last year, while pledges dropped 18.8 percent, according to figures released Friday by the Office of Personnel Management. Almost 200,000 fewer federal employees donated to the campaign in 2013, a decrease from 848,150 in 2012 to 650,142.

“The CFC continued to face challenges with the sustaining of pay freezes and furloughs due to sequestration,” Keith Willingham, OPM’s CFC director, said in a memo to his boss, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta.

(Courtesy of Combined Federal Campaign) (Courtesy of Combined Federal Campaign)

“In 2013, these challenges culminated with a lapse in Federal allocations leading to the shutdown which  occurred at a time during which most local campaigns were set to kick off,” he added. “The impact is evident in the dramatic decline in participation.”

The amount raised in 2013 was $209,660,540, down from $258,253,361 in 2012. That 18.8 percent drop had been projected earlier this month by Payroll Philanthropy blog.

In a blog article posted by Archuleta on Friday, she defended new CFC regulations that have been criticized by charity leaders and questioned by a bipartisan group of House members.  They worry the new regulations could result in a further decline in contributions.  An April 15 letter from the Republican chairmen and top Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and its subcommittee on the federal workforce, raised “substantial concerns” about sections of the new regulations. The elected officials cited the non-refundable charity application fee, no cash contributions and changes to charity support organizations.

In her blog post, Archuleta said “I understand that change can be difficult, especially when changes are made to a system that has been in place for a long time. But, I believe that the improvements we announced on April 11, 2014 will strengthen and invigorate this vital program for the next half century.”

Her blog was headlined: “My Vision for Modernizing the CFC.” Under the new rules, she said charities will receive about 99 cents of every dollar donated, instead of as little as 66 cents.

“Federal employees asked for change to the CFC system,” she wrote. “They wanted lower overhead costs. They wanted more of their money to go directly to the charities they support.”



Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP