Combined Federal Campaign pledges fell to $257.2 million in 2012, down more than $15 million — about 6 percent — from the preceding year, according to new federal figures.
The total represents the third straight yearly drop for the troubled workplace charity drive; the numbers are the lowest since at least 2004, when pledges amounted to $256.9 million.
Participation by civilian federal employees and military personnel was down even more sharply in last year’s campaign; contributors for the 2012 season numbered about 848,200 ,or almost a 12 percent drop from 2011.
The 2012 figures were provided to the CFC campaigns Friday by the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees CFC, and obtained by Federal Times.
Of the 10 largest campaigns, pledges fell at seven, OPM data show.
At the National Capital Area campaign, the nation’s largest, pledges dropped 4.5 percent, from $64.5 million to $61.6 million. Pledges for the Overseas CFC were down by a similar percentage, from $14.3 million to $13.6 million. The fall-off was particularly pronounced at the Hawaii-Pacific Area CFC and the Greater Southern California campaign, where pledges plunged 12 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
An OPM spokeswoman had no comment on the 2012 results late Friday afternoon.
The agency recently proposed an overhaul of the campaign’s structure that would abolish the current network of approximately 184 local and state campaigns in favor of a smaller, unspecified number of regional organizations more closely controlled by OPM.
Local CFC managers had already warned of another bad year, blaming everything from the extended federal pay freeze to budget uncertainties to OPM’s decision last year to bar campaigns from serving food at fundraising events.
The decline in participation is “understandable given the turmoil that federal employees confronted in the last several months,” Marshall Strauss, CEO of the Workplace Giving Alliance, a group of a dozen national and local federations, said in an interview.
“While it’s easy to be disappointed in a drop in pledges, we think it’s also important to acknowledge the striking generosity of federal employees.”
In a Friday news release, the Overseas CFC contrasted the 4 percent decline in pledges for the 2012 season with a 9 percent reduction in personnel stationed abroad, adding that the size of the average pledge grew to a record $198.
Defense Department “uniformed and civilian personnel continue to go beyond the call of duty by giving to those facing hardships around the world,” Michael Rhodes, chairman of the overseas campaign’s local federal coordinating committee, said in the release.