Sarah Ford | October 4, 2013

The Government Shutdown’s Impact on the Combined Federal Campaign & Nonprofit Programs

The shutdown of the federal government is shutting off access that charities get in the last few months of each year to solicit donations from public employees.

Thousands of nonprofits that share the nearly $275-million raised by the federal government’s annual charity drive could receive much less this year if the shutdown keeps public employees out of work for weeks, nonprofit officials say.



The nonprofits that manage the Combined Federal Campaign, which runs through December 15, have already had to cancel dozens of promotional events that were scheduled to take place in coming days at federal offices that are now closed. The longer the shutdown goes on, the less money federal employees may have to give. And if the campaign isn’t extended, charities will have less time to make their pitches for donations.

Government shutdowns have historically occurred when the federal fiscal year ends on September 30 without a new budget. The Combined Federal Campaign begins September 1 and ends December 15, although it has been extended in the past for various reasons, including shutdowns.

Past shutdowns have not led to declines in pledges to the overall campaign, except in 1978, said Steve Delfin, president of America’s Charities, a Chantilly, Va., organization that helps 115 charities solicit through the campaign.

Mr. Delfin believes that is because federal employees do not blame government dysfunction on charities that solicit through the federal workplace-giving campaign.

“Federal employees are under a lot of stress right now,” Mr. Delfin said. “They’re getting treated so poorly, it’s not fair. Yet historically they have been able to disconnect that from the side of them that supports charities.”

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