What is the CFC and Where to Apply: The Nuts & Bolts

Sections of this topic

    In workplace giving, workers solicit funds from their co-workers, and the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the Federal government’s workplace giving program.

    The CFC is a mandatory, completely voluntary program – and that’s not a contradiction.

    It is mandatory because every U.S. Federal agency in the world must conduct a CFC campaign between Sept. 1 and Dec. 15 of each year.

    It is voluntary because all of the organizing and soliciting are done by volunteers. And, there are many safeguards built in to prevent coercion from management about donating. This means that all of the nonprofits participating in CFC have anonymous volunteers helping their development efforts.

    In the CFC, more than 97 percent of the monies raised are designated to specific nonprofits, and the vast majority of the donations are through payroll deduction.

    Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
    OPM is the Federal agency authorized to write the regulations to facilitate fundraising on behalf of charitable organizations through the solicitation of Federal employees and military personnel.

    OPM regulations state that “The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the only authorized solicitation of employees in the Federal workplace on behalf of charitable organizations.” In effect, a non-profit has only one way to solicit Federal employees for donations.

    Think of it this way: this is a potential donor pool of more than three million employees who work for the same employer, an organization that already has a program in place that helps non-profits raise money.

    In terms of actual giving, if the CFC were a foundation it would be the 10th largest in the US.

    The CFC Recognizes Three Types of Charities…

    National, International, and Local — plus federations for all three types.

    National and international charities must apply directly through OPM, and local NPOs to a local board in each region, called the “Local Federal Coordinating Committee” or LFCC. National and international applications are due in January of each year, local applications in late winter/early spring.

    The CFC Application Process and Eligibility

    General Requirements:
    1. The organization must be designated as a tax-exempt non-profit organization
    under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
    2. An application to participate in the CFC must provide specific information
    about their auditing, governance and program functions.
    3. Applicants must also provide a completed and signed copy of their IRS Form
    990 for their most recent fiscal year.

    Requirements for financial statements are based on the size of the non-profit, and can be found at the www.opm.gov/cfc website.

    The Federation: A Special Type of Organization
    Federations are umbrella organizations that are composed of NPOs with a common theme/purpose, (health orgs, arts orgs, etc.). The Federation submits the application to the CFC, and often creates comprehensive marketing materials targeted at federal employees.


    In the next post in the CFC series, we’ll see why the CFC is the most donor friendly means of donating to non-profits for Federal employees.


    During his 25-year career in the Federal sector, Bill Huddleston, The CFC Coach, served in many CFC roles. If you want to get involved in the Combined Federal Campaign, maximize your nonprofit’s CFC revenues, or just ask a few questions, this is the guy to contact … Bill Huddleston1@gmail.com .