Sarah Ford | April 17, 2014

Charities, lawmakers voice concerns over OPM’s rewrite of CFC rules

Source: Federal News Radio

New regulations published this week by the Office of Personnel Management aim to overhaul the Combined Federal Campaign, in part by eliminating cash donations in favor of online giving and requiring charities to pay fees to cover the administrative costs of the program.

But some charity groups say OPM’s regulations are too focused on wringing more efficiencies out of the annual fundraising drive instead of on re-energizing a workplace-giving program that has seen declining donations in recent years.

Amid governmentwide fiscal pressures and employee furloughs, CFC donations fell by 19 percent last year — from more than $258 million in 2012 to about $209 million, according to statistics compiled by Payroll Philanthropy.

“There are certainly ways to increase efficiency,” Steve Delfin, president and CEO of the America’s Charities federation, told Federal News Radio. “But you don’t have to blow up the whole system administratively to do it.”

Since OPM published draft regulations a year ago, the agency has received a torrent of comments from charities and other stakeholders — the vast majority opposing the agency’s plans.

In the face of that opposition, OPM did make several tweaks to its original proposals. But a bipartisan contingent of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawmakers say they want the Office of Management and Budget — which is currently reviewing the new rules — to take another look at the concerns raised by charities.

“Although OPM made some revisions based on the comments it received, CFC stakeholders continue to express concerns,” the April 15 letter to OMB Director Sylvia Burwell stated. “As your office reviews OPM’s recommendations for the final rule, we write to urge that every reasonable consideration be given to the concerns stakeholders have raised.”

The letter was signed by both Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

Concerns over new charity fees

Some charities are concerned about OPM’s plan to cover the administrative costs of the program by charging charities a series of fees to participate.

Currently, administrative fees are deducted from donations, themselves. Typically, about 10 percent of individual donations go toward overhead with the remainder going to the charities, Delfin said.

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