So, since we find ourselves answering these questions time and again, we thought it would be helpful if we explained the CFC calendar.
The first thing people new to the CFC need to wrap their heads around is the impressive length of the Campaign cycle. As we implied in our heading, it goes on and on and on.
The first phase of the CFC is Admission.
As noted, right now, charities are submitting their applications, seeking to be included in the CFC list that federal employees will see in the fall of 2012. The OPM deadline for national and international groups is customarily the 15th of January. For the 2012 cycle, the deadline is slightly later since the 15th is a Sunday and the 16th is a federal holiday.
Most national and international groups apply to the CFC through a federation. Since federations must have time to make sure each member’s material is in order, they naturally set their deadlines in advance of OPM’s.
At the local level, PCFO administrators have their own deadlines for when applications are due in their offices. The earliest such deadlines are, again, in mid-January. Some PCFOs have deadlines reaching into the spring. Local federations, like their national and international cousins, will also use deadlines somewhat in advance of the PCFO deadlines to give themselves time to process the paper and work with their members.
Once the deadlines are passed, OPM staff, PCFO administrators and federal volunteers spend much of the winter and spring reviewing applications.
The CFC’s second phase is Solicitation.
If approved (and there is an appeals process for those rejected – this is a government program, after all), groups are included in the CFC Charity Directory. The Directory, sometimes also called the Charity Catalog, is made available to federal employees each fall, starting in September.
PCFOs get to decide when to start their local Campaign; the goal is to finish by November, though many administrators arrange with OPM to go longer than that.
Federal employees are invited to pledge to one or more of the organizations listed in the Directory. There are kick-off events and other activities designed to promote the Campaign and encourage employees to become involved.
The third phase is Reporting.
Our overview of the CFC timeline has now covered more than a year. In fact, those carefully checking a calendar will have figured out that a new cycle has also begun – as the CFC invites applications for the 2013 Campaign.
But – staying with our original cycle – as solicitation efforts wind down, the tabulation and reporting of results takes off. Generally, PCFOs spend much of December, January, and February going through all the pledges and figuring out which charity raised how much. Sometimes this tabulation continues into March.
Even before the charity-by-charity tabulation is done, the PCFOs will quickly forward pledge information to the relevant federal payroll office. This way, these payroll offices can begin to withhold pledged funds as early as January.
When they have finished tabulating the results in detail, the PCFOs issue reports that go to charities or their federations. By the spring of 2013, everyone who participated in the 2012 CFC should know how well they did.
The final phase of the CFC cycle is Payment.
For the 2012 CFC, pledges will begin to convert into donations in January 2013. The payroll deductions will continue throughout 2013 and into early 2014.
The deducted money goes back to the PCFO that first collected the employee pledge. Periodically through the year and well into 2014, each PCFO will send money to each benefiting charity or to that charity’s federation. In the latter circumstance, the federation will forward the donations to its own members.
Donations from the 2012 CFC will fall to a trickle by the spring of 2014 – a full two and a half years after charities first applied to that cycle of the program.
Whew. We’re done. Happy holidays!