Federal employees once again have the opportunity to contribute their money and time to selected charities through the federal government’s charitable giving portal, with the 2019 Combined Federal Campaign officially launched.

Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen will lead the campaign for the second year in a row, the Office of Personnel Management announced Sept. 9.

“I am honored to once again serve as the Honorary Chairperson for the upcoming CFC,” Director Olsen said in a statement. “Federal employees have a tradition of contributing to their communities in many different ways, and as public servants we are bonded together by a shared sense of volunteerism, dedication and hard work. I am very much looking forward to another successful CFC season.”

The CFC was started 58 years ago as a means of combining the disparate charitable drives held at individual agencies and has since raised more than $8.3 billion for charitable organizations, according to OPM.

“CFC has raised billions of dollars for eligible charities over its long and proud history. Every year the federal workforce, military and retirees show off their tremendous hearts for the causes that they believe in,” said acting OPM Director Margret Weichert in a statement. “I know that this year will be no different and I am grateful to have Director Olsen back to have another amazing and successful campaign.”

Olsen served as chair during 2018’s tumultuous CFC season, when the program had to be extended to make up for time during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, when employees were not receiving paychecks and could not donate as they had in previous years.

But even with federal employee pay increasing over the past two years, donations are still at a sharp rate of decline.

According to OPM, CFC generated more than $93 million for participating charities in 2018, down from the $104 million that was contributed in 2017. This marks a continuation of the downturn CFC has faced over the last decade, since donations peaked at $282.6 million in 2009.

The government has tried to address this decline in participation, with an October 2016 executive order instructing agencies to allow their employees to donate volunteer time, as well as monetary donations, which would all count toward agency totals.

CFC has also revamped its donation portal to make it easier for employees to find charities that interest them and track their past donations.

But the government also switched over to a no-cash model for CFC donations in 2017, making special events such as bake sales and chili cook-offs a time for raising awareness only, rather than collecting money for participating charities.

This year’s CFC will run through Jan. 11, 2020, though newly hired federal employees will have the opportunity to donate during other points in the year.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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