August 15, 2016


Campaign End Date

Question: When will the CFC campaign end this year? Also, what is the last date that someone can enter their pledge?

Response: Our campaign runs from September 1 through December 15. Payroll deductions begin with the first paycheck in January.

Campaign Questions

Question: What is the Combined Federal Campaign?

Response: The CFC is the world’s largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, with more than 200 CFC campaigns throughout the country and internationally to help to raise millions of dollars each year. Pledges made by Federal civilian, postal, and military donors during the campaign season (September 1st to December 15th) support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world.

The CFC is the only authorized charitable fundraising drive in the federal workplace. The fundraising drive allows workers to set aside a portion of their pay to any of hundreds of charities. Most people choose to participate through payroll deduction, in which they designate how much of their salary they want deducted automatically from their paychecks. The money is sent to the charity of their choice. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is responsible for the direction and control of CFCs across the nation and regularly publishes regulations to govern CFC operations in all federal agencies. Campaigns are conducted in every federal agency in accordance with OPM regulations. No other fundraising drives may be conducted in the federal workplace without express written permission of the Director of the OPM, and no departure from any provisions of OPM’s regulations is permitted without the express written permission of the director. Copies of OPM CFC regulations may be obtained through your organization’s CFC co-chairpersons or on OPM’s CFC webpage at

Question: To which charities can I donate money?

Response: Decisions about which groups may participate are made by the OPM and local federal coordinating committees (LFCCs) in hundreds of regions throughout the country. These are compiled each year in a Charity guide that lists all CFC participants. The guide can be accessed through the Smoky Mountain Region (SMR) CFC website here. The charities range in focus from environmental advocacy to poverty to health, and represent international, national, and local charities. You may only donate to the charities listed in the charity guide. Write-ins are not allowed.

Question: Who manages the CFC?

Response: In each community, a LFCC selects a Principal Combined Fund Organization (PCFO) to manage the campaign and serve as fiscal agent. In the Smoky Mountain Region CFC the United Way of Greater Knoxville takes on this role. In the workplace, campaigns are supervised by people generally appointed by the agency leader. The LFCC is made up of federal, civilian, and military employees from the federal agencies located in our area.

Question: Is there a limit on how much in contributions an organization can receive?

Response: No. Donors can designate any amount they wish to an organization. There is no limit to the amount an organization can receive.

Question: Can new hires be asked to give when they join a federal agency even if it is not during the campaign?

Response: Yes. New federal employees may be solicited when they hire in, even if it is outside of the CFC period.

Question: I don’t want to give to the CFC, because I don’t want any of my money going to XYZ charity.

Response: The CFC can appreciate that individuals might feel that way about a single charity. It isn’t surprising that with so many charities, there might be one that someone might not particularly agree with. However, individuals have the option of designating to the charities or federated groups of their choice. In addition, undesignated funds will be donated to charities on a pro rata basis based off the donations designated to specific agencies.

Question: Why isn’t every charitable organization listed?

Response: Through public notice all local private voluntary organizations are invited to submit an application to the LFCC for review. All charities must meet specific requirements stated in the governing rules and regulations from the OPM, as found on the OPM CFC website. Even though a charity was listed in a previous CFC charity list, it is not automatically included. Each charity must apply annually. The local charitable organizations must:

  • Submit an IRS Form 990.
  • Submit a copy of most recent completed audit if its budget is more than $250,000.
  • Submit supporting statement/documentation demonstrating substantial local presence in local campaign area.
  • Submit documentation of human health and welfare benefits provided.
  • Submit a copy of the organization’s most recent IRS 501c3 determination letter.
  • Certify that an active and responsible governing body, whose members have no material conflict of interest and a majority of which serve without compensation, directs the organization.

Question: Isn’t the CFC the same thing as United Way?

Response: No. While campaigns are usually conducted at the same time, the CFC and the United Way Campaign are two separate and different campaigns. Only federal employees participate in the CFC, and they may contribute to over 3,000 charities, which include local United Ways, United Way partner charities, other federations, and unaffiliated charities.

Question: Can a federal retiree serve as a Loaned Executive?

Response: No. A retiree can volunteer to help on the campaign but cannot represent any government entity or solicit federal employees. Retirees can, however, join the LFCC as an advisory member.

Question: Can a federal employee donate to a local charitable organization in a neighboring CFC area?

Response: No. A federal employee may participate in a particular CFC only if that employee’s official duty station is located within the geographic boundaries of that CFC. Campaign boundaries are strictly determined and approved by the OPM.

Charities may, however, apply to multiple CFC regions, and as long as they fit the regulation requirements and have a local or regional presence may be approved for inclusion in the CFC’s list of approved charities.

Question: Will charitable organizations receive the names of donors who contributed to their organization? How?

Response: This option is at the discretion of the donor. The local CFC office will forward the names and addresses of donors who wish to have their names released to the recipient charitable organization directly. Look for this option on the payroll deduction form. If the organization is a member of a federation, the federation will receive the donor names and relay it to their member charities. The PCFO may not make any other use of donors’ names and addresses. The default for the Smoky Mountain Region CFC is to NOT release information unless directed to by the donor.

Charity List

Question: Can the full Listing of Charities be provided on-line as a searchable/query database or spreadsheet based on category, name, city, state, zip code or county, and country of the charity?

Response: The full list of charities is available here. Individuals using online pledging are able to search for key words on the online pdf version and the online form has a search feature. The CFC brochure is also separated into local, national, and international charities.

Contractors / Interns

Question: How do we normally work with interns, contractors, and alliance partners to participate in CFC? What is the policy? Is there any type of contribution form they can use to do paycheck withdrawals or one-time donations to count towards our participation rate and goals?

Response: Contractors (which includes interns) cannot be directly solicited; however, contractors who hear about the campaign and wish to participate can join in special events as well as make one-time cash or check donations to the CFC using the paper form and designate any approved charity, if they so choose. Checks should be made out to the CFC. Making donations by payroll deduction is for Federal employees only.

Alliance partners or vendors may be solicited, but there must be no implicit (or explicit) mention of positive or negative outcomes for the vendor’s participation. For instance, a vendor is welcome to participate in or help sponsor the annual Golf Tournament; however, this should not lead to increased TVA business, nor should non-participation reduce TVA business with the vendor.

Contributor Gifts

Question: If someone donates a lot of money (more than the general contributor), do they get all gifts up to that level or just one gift?

Response: Individuals will receive only one gift. Someone can downgrade their gift, but we cannot upgrade the gift.

Day of Caring

Question: Is it appropriate to request tangible donations for a charity? For example, request for blankets, newspaper, toys, treats, etc. as we approach the Day of Caring and CFC Fair dates?

Response: Under the FAQs link on the OPM website there is a subject on “Campaign Events/Materials”. It makes a reference to 5CFR950.602, Solicitation methods.

The CFC Fair is held for the purpose of providing information about the different charities. As such, it should not be treated as a fundraising activity. If a charity wants to provide information about ways of helping besides through monetary contributions, that would be fine. It is not acceptable to have a donation container at the CFC Fair. If the Fair is promoted as a fundraising activity, then that is different. However, to interpret things conservatively, “fundraising” would mean money, not canned food, blankets, personal care items, etc.

With regards to activities related to “Day of Caring” if individuals want to bring tangible items with them because they know those items are needed and are making the trip anyway, that’s fine. Generally, individuals volunteer at places where they share the passion for the organization and are committed to that charity, thus it should be fine to approach them for a Day of Caring donation.


Question: Is there any way of knowing what charities I designated last year?

Response: Individuals using an online pledging system can see the amounts they designated when completing the online pledge card form. The PCFO also has the ability to confirm previous year’s charity designations (contact the 2015 PCFO).

Donation Receipt

Question: For federal tax deduction purposes, do we receive a receipt or other type documentation at the end of the year for CFC contributions?

Response: We do not send a separate receipt for CFC donations at the end of the year; however, there are two easy ways to obtain a receipt for federal tax purposes. First, when you initially donate, you’ll either have an email from the e-workplace system confirming your payroll deduction over the next year or receive an actual paper receipt, if you choose to pay by paper pledge (whether cash, check, or payroll deduction). Many people just file this receipt away for use on their taxes later on. Also, if you have chosen to donate via payroll deduction, then your pay stub at the end of the year will show your deductions for CFC. You can pull up that information from the ePay system, which will show current deductions as well as year-to-date deductions in categories like 401k, HSA, and CFC deductions.

Ending a Payroll Deduction  – TVA Specific

Question: If my personal circumstances change during the year, is there a way to change or stop my CFC payroll deduction?

Response: Yes, CFC is always a voluntary donation. If someone chooses to change their donation, the person just needs to contact our Accounting Services group at

Financial Goals – TVA Specific

Question: Can the TVA CFC Treasurer provide the departmental goals?

Response: Per the TVA CFC Treasurer, we only set the goals at the SBU level. Individual SBUs may choose to further split the goal to the BU or department level if so desired. We are willing to help advise BU coordinators should they want a specific goal.

Any Federal agency can set an overall goal.


Question: If we do not re-submit a new form for 2016 the monthly payroll deducted pledges from 2015 campaign will stop?

Response: That is correct. The 2015 payroll deduction will stop at the end of the calendar year if an individual does not complete a new pledge card in the 2016 campaign.

Percentages after Each Charity

Question: What does the percentage mean at the end of the organization listing?

Response: The Administrative and Fundraising Rate (AFR) represents the percentage of dollars spent on administering the charity. It is calculated as a percentage of the organization’s total support and revenue. For instance, if the charity’s AFR is 8%, then 8 cents out of every dollar will go toward management, general, and fundraising expenses. Donors concerned about an excessive AFR should contact the organization and/or review its IRS Form 990, which is available to the public, for a complete explanation. Each situation is unique. Donors may contact the charity directly and/or industry oversight organizations in order to better understand the financial status, service delivery record, and governance policies of the charity before donating.

Pledge Card

Question: If we participated last year, do we have to complete another form again, or does it just continue?

Response: Since it’s a different year/campaign, individuals need to complete the 2016 e-pledge or pledge card. Their 2016 designations should stop and the 2016 designations start in January 2016. Individuals are also encouraged to double check the charity listings catalog to ensure the charity code(s) did not change from the 2016 campaign. In addition, some charities might not have submitted their application in time, so they are not in the 2016 charity listing guide. If a SBU/BU Coordinator receives a question(s) about a charity, feel free to send the TVA Loaned Executives an e-mail and they can assist in tracking down the answer to questions of this nature.


Question: (EXAMPLE) One of my managers is retiring January 1, 2016, so he will not be here to have payroll deductions taken for CFC. He is concerned that he will be counted as a ‘negative’ in the participation percentage. I did ‘suggest’ that he could make a one-time donation if he would like but he didn’t seem to be interested in going that route. He again stated that he didn’t think it would be ‘fair’ for him to impact that participation percentage in a negative manner, “since he will not be paid by TVA so he cannot do payroll deduction”? Will he be counted as a non-participant?

Response: The participation percentage is calculated based on the number of TVA employees at the time pledges are made. So, if he doesn’t make a pledge during the 2016, he naturally would not be counted toward participation. If the employee is expected to retire at the beginning of next year, then the primary option for donation would be a lump sum payment of cash or check in 2016. Then he would be counted as a 2016 participant. He can continue to make lump sum contributions as a retiree in future years.

SBU/BU Coordinators – TVA Specific

Question: Can SBU/BU Coordinators help by asking people what type of charity they are looking for and then run a query to pare down the list for them based on the parameters the individual specified? Should SBU/BU Coordinators serve as a middleman role to make the end contributor’s job a little easier? Possibly the SBU/BU Coordinator would first talk with people to ask if they have a favorite charity or few and if they would like to donate through payroll deduction or via a one-time donation. Then, the SBU/BU Coordinator could go get the information pared down, return to the person to share the information, and then work to complete the donation process.

Response: The SBU/BU Coordinators are encouraged to identify opportunities that could make their organizations efforts a success. It’s a great idea for SBU/BU Coordinators to tailor initiatives to best meet their area of support. BUT the need remains to keep the playing field level for all charities and for the donor to feel no pressure to designate to a specific charity.


Question: What are acceptable solicitation methods?

Response: Click here to read acceptable solicitation methods as outlined by OPM.

Special Solicitations during Emergencies and Disasters

Question: What is a special solicitation?

Response: Federal regulations, set forth at 5 CFR §950.102, state that the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the only authorized solicitation of employees in the Federal workplace on behalf of charitable organizations. Under an exception in this regulation, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may grant permission for special solicitations of Federal employees, outside of the CFC, in support of victims in cases of emergencies and disasters.

All requests must be made in writing and sent to:

Director U.S. Office of Personnel Management
1900 E. Street, NW, Room 5450
Washington, DC 20415

Question: What information should the request contain?

Response: At a minimum, the request should include the following: background on the emergency or disaster that is being addressed by the special solicitation; information on the charity(ies) and location(s) where the special solicitation will be conducted; dates on which the special solicitation will be conducted, and; information on the charitable organization(s) that will be the recipient of special solicitation funds.

To expedite the request, OPM recommends that the requesting department, agency, or component fax it to 202/606-5056. OPM urges departments and agencies to contact OPM’s Office of the CFC at 202/606-2564 or for assistance in the development and implementation of any special solicitation.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Question: What is the difference of the below listings?

  • 30996 St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – Tennessee
  • 10560 St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Response: One is in the Tennessee Federation, the other is in the National Federation. (30996 is the Community Health Charities/Tennessee Chapter, and 10560 is the Community Health Charities/National Chapter.).

Question: (EXAMPLE) The 10560 shows a 4.9% H.G.E., while 30996 shows a 25.23% G.H.W. What does this mean?

Response: The percentage at the end of each charity indicates the amount of their revenue that goes toward administrative and fundraising expenses. This is computed from the IRS 990 Form. The letters are taxonomy codes that show the type of services they provide. Even though these organizations are the same and provide the same service, each is a separate chapter, having their own 501(c)3, own board of directors, own budget, etc.

Undesignated Donations

Question: How is money allocated from special events (i.e., donut sales, candy sales, etc.)?

Response: Any money raised from special events will be placed in the undesignated donations category. At the end of the campaign, those donations are distributed on a pro rata basis to all agencies that received a donation. For instance, if a charitable agency received 10% of the specific donations from donors, then the agency would also receive 10% of the undesignated donations. If a charity does not receive a donation, that charity will not receive money from the undesignated pot. BUT if a participant in a special event requests a designation form it must be provided and the donor can select the charity of choice.

United Way Fee

Question: Why does TVA pay a fee to United Way to manage the campaign and where does the money come from?

Response: TVA itself doesn’t pay United Way to manage the campaign; the PCFO fee is paid out of donations to the campaign. The LFCC solicits applications for the role of PCFO annually. The application includes a budget. The budget includes but is not limited to funding for staff support, processing pledges and designations, payout out designations, audit, reporting to OPM and charities, campaign supplies/materials, awards, etc. The LFCC has the responsibility of making sure the established campaign budget is followed. Money for the budget comes from the overall donations of the 26 county Smoky Mountain Region. Any money left after the two year period it takes to plan, run, process, and payout a campaign is distributed to charities based on their percentage of designations.