How Federal Workers Lead the Nation in Charitable Giving

Military CFC

By Mark V. Ewert

You know the routine: Someone at work volunteers to head up a fundraising drive, recruits people in every department to help, has information meetings -- pep rallies, really -- and tries to engage everyone in giving. In some office settings there is a lot of competition, and in others there is serious pressure to participate. For some people, it's a convenient way to give to someone trustworthy, and for others it's a time to lower the chair in their cube and avoid the break room.

There are many ways to make charitable gifts at your workplace, such as participating in a sport to raise money for a nonprofit, having a donation matched by your company, or simply collecting donations to benefit victims of a local disaster. But "workplace giving" refers to a giving program that usually happens once per year, includes a payroll-deduction option, and allows you to make some choices of which nonprofits your gifts benefit. These are often managed by an outside organization.

The oldest and perhaps best-known nonprofit that runs a robust workplace giving program is the United Way. Others include America's Charities, Community Health Charities, and EarthShare. There are also a number of online giving tools that businesses use to manage these programs, including Benevity, VolunteerMatch, and Truist. If your employer doesn't have a workplace giving program, you might do some research to see whether the company is a good fit for one.

The largest workplace giving program -- and in fact the largest fundraising drive in the world -- is the U.S. Combined Federal Campaign, or CFC. It's going on now, as it does every fall. Even if you are not near Washington, D.C., you might see information about it in your community, because it happens wherever federal civilian, postal, and military personnel are employed -- that is, everywhere. About 800,000 federal employees -- roughly a quarter of the federal workforce that's invited -- contribute close to $209 million per year through the CFC.

U.S. military service members at a CFC celebration. Source: Flickr user USAG- Humphreys.

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