Federal civilian and military personnel will be able to direct donations to a wider range of charities through the Combined Federal Campaign now underway.

Office of Personnel Management officials said that under a new “universal giving” feature, donors can give to local charities in other areas, as well as national charities and local ones in their own areas — supporting, for example, a charity where they lived previously.


(Courtesy of Combined Federal Campaign)

That change, which had been tested in pilot programs, now is available throughout the drive’s 151 regional campaigns nationwide. There are about 24,000 participating charities altogether. A new online feature allows searches by name, keywords or code number.

The CFC is the nation’s largest workplace charity drive, raising some $209 million from 800,000 donors last year. The current campaign started Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 15.

“In lean times, our employees continue to give and I’m so proud,” OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said in a conference call with media members Wednesday.

Said Keith Willingham, the CFC program director, “We’re very, very pleased that so many federal employees see the value of the program and continue to donate through it and ultimately help charities that are out there helping others.”

The 2013 total however was down about 19 percent from the 2012 level of $258 million. Giving has fallen each year since it peaked in 2009 at $273 million.

OPM doesn’t distinguish participation and contribution numbers between federal employees and military personnel.

OPM earlier this year finalized a number of policy changes based on a study group’s recommendations, but those changes will not take effect until next fall’s campaign for 2016. Many of those planned changes — including a non-refundable charity application fee, an end to cash contributions and changes to charity support organizations — have drawn opposition from charities and from a bipartisan group of House members.

Willingham said that OPM has been meeting with charities and employee organizations on implementing those rules.