Cancel the carrot cupcakes for charity collections, federal employees. Buying banana bread in a bag: banned. Peddling pumpkin pie on a plastic plate: prohibited.
The government will no longer allow bake sales — those celebrations of carbohydrates that bring a whiff of an elementary school spring fair to the often-sterile federal workplace — to support the Combined Federal Campaign, its annual solicitation for charitable donations.
The CFC, the largest employer-sponsored charity drive in the nation, is switching to a centralized donor pledging system that allows for electronic giving only, effective with the campaign that starts Oct. 2.
“Employees using the new CFC donor pledging system will recognize the CFC donation process as similar to the deduction process for their other federal benefits. The new system will continue to allow all employees to give via convenient payroll deduction, credit/debit cards, and eCheck options,” the Office of Personnel Management told agencies in an Aug. 3 memo.
That also means, the memo said, that “cash donations will not be accepted for CFC at events effective this year. Instead special events will focus on increasing employee awareness of CFC charities and their mission, not cash fundraising (such as bake sales).”
The no-cash policy is one response to a commission that in 2012 recommended modernizing the CFC, which has suffered in recent years from declining contributions.
Some changes recommended by that commission, called the CFC 50 Commission because it was convened on the charity drive’s 50th anniversary, already have taken effect. For example, donors now can give to local charities in other areas, as well as to national charities and local ones in their own areas. Other changes to take effect with the coming campaign include allowing employees to pledge time rather than just money and allowing retirees to make ongoing donations from their annuities.
OPM earlier had formally proposed to end donations by cash, check or money order, resulting in charities raising concerns that giving will decrease even further — in 2012, about 7 percent of donations, $19 million, came in those forms.
However, there was no specific mention of that policy having the side effect of doing away with bake sales, chili cook-offs, used book sales and similar events to benefit the charity drive.
An OPM spokesman said, “The change was made in accordance with the CFC-50 Commission’s recommendations to `accelerate efforts to “go green” by reducing paper processes within the CFC as much as possible’ and to `monitor overall campaign costs to seek continued efficiencies.’”
“Campaign kickoffs, victory events, awards, and other non-solicitation events to build support and awareness for the CFC are encouraged. No funds may be raised or collected at these events,” the spokesman added.