We have been quiet for a while, waiting for the changes introduced by OPM (details in this report) to work their way through the CFC. As the 2017 campaign prepares to launch, we can see the impact of many of these changes.
1.The number of charities participating in the CFC has dropped sharply, reflecting the unwillingness of thousands of local and national groups to pay the fees that OPM introduced late in 2016. The government will publish the full charity list in the next week or so, but our understanding is that 40 percent or more of the charities that participated in the 2016 CFC declined to participate in the 2017 campaign. Many (including us) had warned of this outcome as OPM was developing its fee system. Unfortunately, the warning proved accurate.
2.The 2017 campaign will start a month or so behind schedule. OPM has been swamped by the tasks that fell on them as they centralized the CFC. Late last year, the new Central Campaign Administrator had to design, publish and manage an online admissions portal, and now the same Administrator is preparing to publish a second portal, this one to allow employees to pledge. Anxious about hacks, the federal government has instituted complex security requirements that have slowed down the launch of these web-based functions.
3.The screening of charities for the 2017 campaign is only now wrapping up. In prior CFC cycles, the list of approved national, international and local charities would have been finished in July. Until the charity list is final, campaign staff and volunteers around the country need to wait to begin many campaign activities.
Officially, OPM launched the 2017 CFC this week. In reality, solicitation of pledges will begin later this month.
We do not know how donors will react to the new systems. There are advantages to the administrative streamlining that OPM has pursued. There will, for example, be fewer mistakes as pledges convert into actual payroll deductions, and as that money flows to the benefiting charities.
Federations, moreover, will be forced to be more transparent in how they charge for their services. They will not be allowed to withhold their fees before employee donations reach their charity members. A few years ago, we argued for more transparency in federation fees, and we are delighted at this government imposed improvement. (See our 2013 report on federation fees.)
On the other hand, OPM changes led to the departure of many staff and volunteers who ran the CFC for years around the country. Much institutional memory went out the door with them. We shall see if the new teams can maintain the energy that animated the CFC.
Read our report on changes in the 2017 CFC.