America’s Charities CEO Calls for Increases in Efficiency and Transparency

Washington, DC (December 6, 2011) -- Increasing efficiency, transparency and leadership in the Federal government’s workplace charity drive were top issues that America’s Charities urged the Office of Personnel Management Commission on the fiftieth anniversary of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC 50) to address in potential reforms.

Steve Delfin, president and chief executive officer of America’s Charities, asked the 21-member Federal commission to look at five key areas for reform in the campaign.  These issues are: making provisions for all Federal employees to have easy access to electronic giving systems; streamlining the application process for local or national charities with electronic systems and multi-year approval; increase the utilization of the many federations in the campaign to ease some of the paperwork burdens on Federal employees; advocating for greater leadership of the campaign across all branches and departments of government; and increasing the transparency of operations at the governance level and among the charities and federations.

Delfin noted that charities and the people who rely upon them for help are very grateful for the generosity of Federal employees who have given more than $7 billion in the last 50 years.  However, he noted that now is the time to address some of these issues in order to strengthen the campaign.

“At a time when the world and national economies continue to struggle, and when some of the most traditional sources of corporate giving -- such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae foundations -- have evaporated, the generosity of Federal employees continues to stand out as a shinning example of philanthropy at its best,” said Mr. Delfin.  “However, there are some challenges that we have all seen coming for quite some time and now is the time to act to mitigate the possible negative impact that could result if we do not make some critical changes.

Despite the overall growth in the Federal workforce, there were fewer donors in 2010 (1,017,772) than the campaign had in 1965 – its second year of existence.

Furthermore, he noted that the last year that a majority of Federal employees pledged to one or more of their favorite charities through CFC was 1991 when 53 percent (or 2,482,482) of the employees gave.  Since then, the participation rate has declined to 24 percent.

From 2001 through 2010 alone, the campaign lost more than 482,000 donors.  Had participation simply remained constant at the 2001 average gift level, there would be $77 million more being raised for worthy charities that meet CFC criteria.  That additional giving would have brought the 2010 giving totals up to more than $350 million--rather than the $280+ million level announced by OPM for 2010.

At the same time the CFC has been losing donors, campaign expenses have been on the rise.  Despite a decade of consolidation of campaign offices by OPM and the advent of online pledging through Employee Express and other means, the expense data released for the 2010 campaign showed that costs were at the highest dollar figure ever– with budgets totaling almost $30 million.

If the 8.5 percent expense ratio from 2001 had been maintained, then the campaign also would be saving an estimated additional $5.4 million.  This is money that would find its way directly into the participating charities for services to people in need, not the campaign expenses.
Mr. Delfin urged these reforms so that Federal employees who run these campaigns can be freed up from large amount of routine paperwork in order to focus more on improving the quality of the campaigns conducted each year.

“By building more efficiency in to our systems, volunteer hours of Federal employees can be focused on higher quality touch points with donors through events, marketing, research, focus groups and more,” he said.

America’s Charities, its sister federations, and its 140 member charities have been participating in the CFC since 1980.  Headquartered in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., with offices in the New York City metropolitan area; Orlando, Fla.; Austin, Texas; and Los Angeles, America’s Charities has grown in members, donations, and stature by advocating for broader choice in giving, and serves as a change agent in addressing how companies run donor-driven workplace giving campaigns.

Its member charities participate in more than 300 employee giving campaigns, reaching some 10 million employees annually through programs at Lockheed Martin, American Express, ExxonMobil, AAA national headquarters, Gannett, American Airlines, Dell Computers, National Geographic, UnitedHealth Group, United Airlines, SRA International, AARP, USA Today, and many others, plus more than 200 campaigns within the U.S. government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) and 180 campaigns through state and local governments.

Complete text submitted to the CFC50 Commission.