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Combined Federal Campaign CFC FAQs

Charity Eligibility & Participation

  • Donors can designate any amount they wish to a charitable organization. There is no limit to the amount a charitable organization can receive.
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  • The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) does not require that participating organizations be in existence for a minimum of three years. Organizations that apply to participate as national/international charities may submit examples of services provided within the previous three years to demonstrate a national or international presence. There is no requirement that services were provided in each of those years, however.
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  • To be eligible to participate in the CFC, a charitable organization must be recognized as a tax-exempt non-profit organization under 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. An application to participate in the CFC must provide specific information about the organization's accounting, governance, and program functions, as specified in the CFC regulations at 5 CFR §950. The organization must also provide a completed and signed copy of its IRS Form 990 for the most recent fiscal year. Organizations must demonstrate that they provide services in the service area to which they are applying:
    • National/International organizations provide services in 15 different U.S. states and/or one foreign country over the three year period immediately preceding the start of the campaign’s application year.
    • International organizations are defined in regulation as charitable organizations that provide services either exclusively or in a substantial preponderance to persons in areas outside of the United States. These organizations must provide evidence of services in at least one foreign country over the three year period immediately preceding the start of the campaign’s application year.
    • Local organizations are those that (1) have a substantial local presence in; and (2) provide services in the local campaign zone to which they apply. The services must be provided during the calendar year immediately preceding the start of the campaign’s application year.
    Charities may apply to participate in the CFC individually (as an unaffiliated, or "independent", organization) or they may be represented by a federation. A federation is a coalition of individual charities that align to minimize administrative costs and to coordinate activities. All CFC application and participation requirements that apply to individual charities also apply to federations. In addition, federations must demonstrate that they have no fewer than 15 CFC member organizations that meet the CFC eligibility criteria.
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  • In accordance with 5 CFR §950.601(a)(1), the application period is during a period between December and January, as determined by the Director. Please look at the CFC Calendar of Events.
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  • Organizations that are not required to file IRS Form 990 with the IRS or that file some other form—such as the IRS Forms 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF—must submit a pro forma IRS Form 990. This includes subordinates to group exemptions and bonafide chapters or affiliates, which are required to submit pro forma IRS Forms 990 specific to the entity and service location named in the CFC application. The pro forma IRS Form 990 is not a separate form. Rather it is a partially completed IRS Form 990 that is used for CFC purposes only. The following items must be completed on the pro forma IRS Form 990:
    • Page 1, Items A-M
    • Part I, Summary, Lines 1-4 only
    • Part II, Signature Block
    • Part VII, Compensation –Section A only
    • Part VIII, Statement of Revenues
    • Part IX, Statement of Functional Expenses
    • Part XII, Financial Statements and Reporting
    Please note that the CFC cannot accept other forms, such as IRS Forms 990-EZ, 990-N, 990-PF, or other comparable forms.
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  • The fee structure is based on tiers for different types of organizations. Tiers refer to the size of the applicant organization in terms of total revenue as reported on the submitted IRS Form 990 or the pro forma IRS Form 990. Total revenue may be found on page 9, line 12, column A of the required IRS forms. The CFC rules, as noted in 5 CFR §950.107, allow for upfront application fees and listing fees as well as distribution fees to be assessed against pledges received. Listing fees are paid only by organizations approved to participate in the campaign. Tier I Organizations are those that report $1 million or more in revenue. Tier II Organizations are those that report $250 thousand or more in revenue, but less than $1 million. Tier III Organizations are those that report less than $250 thousand in revenue.   APPLICATION FEES Nat'l/Int'l Federation $1,575 Nat'l/Int'l Federation Member Org. $400 Nat'l/Int'l Independent Org. $570 Local Federation $630 Local Federation Member Org. $255 Local Independent Org. $340   LISTING FEES Tier I Nat'l/Int'l Organizations $2,270 Tier II Nat'l/Int'l Organizations $555 Tier III Nat'l/Int'l Organizations $370 Tier I Local Organizations $635 Tier II Local Organizations $135 Tier III Local Organizations $20
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  • Organizations receiving designations in the 2015 and 2016 CFCs will continue to receive disbursements in the same way they do currently. Beginning with the 2017 CFC, the CCA will send payments via EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). EFT disbursements are required for participating charitable organizations.
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  • Members of federations must submit their applications as instructed by the federation. Federations and independent organizations submit their applications directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management through the CFC application module at CFCcharities.opm.gov.
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  • It is the responsibility of the Central Campaign Administrator (CCA) to provide the names, home addresses, and personal (i.e. not federal) email addresses of donors who wish to have their names and contact information released to the designated charitable organizations or their federations, where applicable. The CCA and the federation may not make any other use of donors' names and contact information.
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  • Contributions are administered by the Central Campaign Administrator (CCA). The CCA will disburse funds on a monthly starting April 1 immediately following the campaign period.
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  • It is difficult to estimate how much an organization will receive in any given year of the CFC. Like any workplace giving program, it is subject to influences that may affect giving (e.g. fluctuations in the Federal labor force). After participating for a number of years, it may be possible to establish an estimated range for the amount to be received. We suggest that charitable organizations contact similar charities which participate in the CFC to inquire about their experiences. Please note that participation in the CFC is not a guarantee that the organization will receive designations from donors.
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  • OPM published CFC regulations in April 2014 to streamline many of the program's operations, including how charitable organizations apply to become part of the program. The regulations, which go into effect on January 1, 2017, were issued to ensure the continued growth and success of the program by improving donor participation, CFC infrastructure, and standards of transparency and accountability.   The cost of the campaign will be recovered primarily through application fees paid by the charitable organizations that apply for participation in the CFC. Additionally, upfront application fees will require that charities properly adjust for campaign costs in their own accounting, something that the current process of cost deduction does not reflect. Prior to 2017, the overhead administrative costs of much of the CFC program were paid out of donor contributions through the campaign. OPM maintains that more transparency with respect to administrative overhead would be beneficial to the program, to the donors, and to the charitable organizations that receive donations through the CFC. In addition to defraying costs, an application fee will discourage those organization that receive no benefit from the campaign from applying, thereby reducing administrative costs, and increasing the number of dollars that reaches participating charities. It is in the spirit of these recommendations that OPM proposed to restructure CFC cost recovery.
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  • Yes, all CFC applicants are required to submit a new application annually. However, in accordance with 5 CFR §950.201(c), the full application is required once every three years with an abbreviated “verification application”—consisting of only the certification statements and the IRS Form 990 or pro forma IRS Form 990—required in the intervening years.
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  • Contact the Central Campaign Administrator (CCA) Customer Care Center via telephone (Mon.-Fri. 8am-6pm CST)
    • Toll Free — (888)232-4935
    • Local/Int — (608)237-4935
    • TTY Toll Free — (800)203-6280
    • TTY Local/Int — (608)268-7740
    or via email at support@cfccharities.org.
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  • Local organizations must certify that the organization address submitted with the application is the primary location from which the organization's services are rendered and/or its records are maintained. A local organization may apply to as many campaign zones for which this certification can be made. A different five-digit CFC Universal Code, i.e. CFC Code, will be issued for each campaign zone to which an organization applies.
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Total Count: 22, Number of Pages: 2, Page: 1
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