Charity/Federation FAQ

CHARITY FAQ

Charity Eligibility & Participation

Q.   What are the eligibility requirements for an organization to participate in the CFC? What are the eligibility requirements for an organization to participate in the CFC?

Q.   Where do charitable organizations apply?

Q.   What is the local campaign application deadline?

Q.   How many campaigns am I eligible to apply to?

Q.   Is there a limit on how much in contributions a charitable organization can receive?

Q.   How does a charitable organization know the amount of pledges it received in a campaign year?

Q.   In what form will payments be received by my organization (i.e., electronic transfers, checks, etc.)?

Q.   Are donor contributions received throughout the year?

Q.   Does inclusion in the CFC Charity List carry with it any description of the charity's purpose or goals?

Q.   Will participating charitable organizations receive the names of donors who have contributed to their organizations? How?

Q.   Is it necessary for a charitable organization to submit an application annually?

Q.   We are a new charitable organization, is it possible to estimate how much might we expect to receive in contributions the first year?

Q.   Will we get an opportunity to participate in meetings, charity exhibits and other events hosted by Federal agencies?

Q.   If we have questions regarding the CFC to whom should they be addressed?


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CFC DONATIONS

Q.   What Are The Costs Of The Campaign?

Q.   Many donors only contribute 1 dollar per pay period. Has OPM considered a nationwide pledge minimum of 2, 3, or 5 dollars to increase revenue?

Q.   Can a federal employee donate to a local charitable organization in a neighboring CFC campaign area?

Q.   Can CFC donors who give above a certain level be listed in a PCFO publication or recognition ceremony? Does the campaign have to get permission from all of the donors? Is it a breach of confidentiality?

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

Q.   Can the LFCC extend the campaign period based on local circumstances?


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LOCAL ELIGIBILITY

Q.   Is a LFCC required to publish an announcement for the PCFO application?

Q.   Is a Local Federal Coordinating Committee (LFCC) required to keep any type of data base, provide notice of the application period, and/or mail annual applications to charitable organizations?

Q.   Why is a "dba" (Doing business as) required from the IRS for a name change? Can a State-issued "dba" be used instead of the IRS "dba"?

Q.   What is considered a "complete" IRS Form 990?

Q.   Is a local charitable organization required to satisfy all independent eligibility criteria or is it allowed to use national or regional materials, especially if it is a chapter of a national organization or a site of a regional office?

Q.   Can an applicant provide an audit on appeal if it isn't ready by the application deadline?

Q.   If a charitable organization is a state chapter of a national charitable organization is that considered statewide presence?

Q.   State-wide presence vs. Local presence... please define.


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FEDERATIONS

Q.   If a charitable organization lists with a federation during a campaign, is that federation required to complete the cycle of distribution? If the charitable organization signs up with another federation can the new federation take over distribution payments before the cycle ends?

Q.   Can a local federation participate in more than one campaign... particularly neighboring campaigns?

Q.   Can a federation apply for inclusion in the CFC Charity List without including its member organizations?

Q.   Since a local or regional federation can be in more than one CFC, if one CFC accepts the federation can the neighboring campaign accept the application without having to review all the applications of all its members?

Q.   Can you have a local federation with less than 15 eligible member organizations? What if they have 15 eligible member organizations but one member organization elects to list with another federation taking them to 14 member organizations?

 

 

CHARITY FAQ

Charity Eligibility & Participation

Q.   What are the eligibility requirements for an organization to participate in the CFC? What are the eligibility requirements for an organization to participate in the CFC?

A.   To be eligible to participate in the CFC each charitable organization must be designated as a tax-exempt non-profit organization under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. An application to participate in the CFC must provide specific information about their auditing, governance and program functions, as specified in the CFC regulations at 5 C.F.R § 950PDF Format. Applicants must also provide a completed and signed copy of their IRS Form 990 for their most recent fiscal year. To participate in one of the 200 plus local CFC campaign areas, as opposed to being nationally eligible and participating in every campaign area, a charitable organization must be able to demonstrate that it has a "substantial" program presence within the campaign's (or an adjacent campaign's) geographical boundaries or within the state of the campaign. Charities may apply to participate in the CFC individually (as an "independent organization"), or they may be represented by a "federation." A federation is a coalition of individual charities with similar missions that align to minimize administrative costs and 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 at least 15 CFC member organizations that meet the CFC eligibility criteria.

Q.   Where do charitable organizations apply?

A.   Members of federations must submit their applications to the federation. Federations and independent organizations submit their applications directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (if applying as a national/international organization) or the local CFC office (if applying as a local organization). Charities can find contact information for local CFC offices via our Campaign Locator (http://www.opm.gov/cfc/Search/Locator.asp). See the application instructions for more information.

Q.   What is the local campaign application deadline?

A.   Each of the 200 plus campaigns sets its own deadline. You will need to contact your local campaign office for this information.

Q.   How many campaigns am I eligible to apply to?

A.   Each local organization may apply to the campaign where it has a substantial local presence (i.e. a staffed facility, office or portion of a residence dedicated exclusively to the organization, available to members of the public seeking its services or benefits. The facility must be open at least 15 hours per week and have a telephone dedicated exclusively to the organization.) It can also apply to all campaign areas that are adjacent to the campaign where the organization is located. An application must be sent to each campaign in which the organization wishes to participate.

Organizations that provide services in 30% of the geographic area of the state or to 30% of a target population in the state may apply as a statewide organization. An application must be sent to each campaign in the state in which the organization wishes to participate.

Q.   Is there a limit on how much in contributions a charitable organization can receive?

A.   Donors can designate any amount they wish to a charitable organization. There is no limit to the amount a charitable organization can receive.

Q.   How does a charitable organization know the amount of pledges it received in a campaign year?

A.   Each local campaign office is required to notify designated charitable organizations, in writing, of the amount of pledges it received by a date determined by OPM. Charitable organizations that did not receive a designation in the campaign area will not receive a communication from the campaign.

Q.   In what form will payments be received by my organization (i.e., electronic transfers, checks, etc.)?

A.   Campaigns may choose to send payments via check or EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). Participation in EFT disbursements is optional for participating charitable organizations.

Q.   Are donor contributions received throughout the year?

A.   Contributions are administered by a local non-profit fiscal agent known as the Principal Combined Fund Organization (PCFO). The PCFO may disburse funds either monthly or quarterly beginning by April of the year immediately following the campaign period. However, the PCFO may send one-time checks to charitable organizations that received very small amounts in contributions.

Q.   Does inclusion in the CFC Charity List carry with it any description of the charity's purpose or goals?

A.   Yes, CFC Charity Lists include a 25-word statement that is crafted by the applicant and submitted to OPM. However, those campaigns that receive less than $100,000 in pledges are not required to include the 25-word statement in the Charity List.

Q.   Will participating charitable organizations receive the names of donors who have contributed to their organizations? How?

A.   It is the responsibility of the local CFC office to forward the names and addresses of donors who wish to have their names released to the recipient charitable organization directly. If the charitable organization is a member of a federation, the federation will receive the donor name and relay it to the participating charitable organization. The PCFO and the federation may not make any other use of donors' names and addresses.

Q.   Is it necessary for a charitable organization to submit an application annually?

A.   Yes, all CFC applicants are required to submit a new application annually. (Please visit Charity Application section.)

Q.   We are a new charitable organization, is it possible to estimate how much might we expect to receive in contributions the first year?

A.   It is difficult to estimate how much you will receive in any given year as the CFC, like all workplace giving, is subject to influences that may affect giving (i.e., 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.

Q.   Will we get an opportunity to participate in meetings, charity exhibits and other events hosted by Federal agencies?

A.   Yes. Participating charitable organizations wishing to be involved in campaign events should contact their local CFC office in writing to inquire about opportunities to participate in CFC events and request a copy of their calendar of CFC events.

Q.   If we have questions regarding the CFC to whom should they be addressed?

A.   Contact the Office of CFC Operations at (202) 606-2564 (Mon.-Fri. 8:30am-5:00pm) or cfc@opm.gov or your local CFC office (http://www.opm.gov/cfc/Search/Locator.asp) for questions/concerns regarding the campaign.


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CFC DONATIONS

Q.   What Are The Costs Of The Campaign?

A.   Historically, campaign costs nation-wide have averaged ten percent. These funds were spent on printing materials, training volunteers, auditing contributions, and other administrative expenses. All local campaign costs are reviewed and approved by the LFCC governing the local campaign. On average, this cost is low compared with other fundraising campaigns; therefore, every dollar you pledge goes a very long way toward helping others.

Q.   Many donors only contribute 1 dollar per pay period. Has OPM considered a nationwide pledge minimum of 2, 3, or 5 dollars to increase revenue?

A.   5 CFR Part 950.901(e)(1) states, "The minimum amount of the allotment will be determined by the LFCC but will not be less than $1 per payday, with no restriction in the size of the increment above that minimum." OPM does not plan to change the regulatory minimum since the LFCC can determine its own minimum for their specific CFC.

Q.   Can a federal employee donate to a local charitable organization in a neighboring CFC campaign area?

A.   No. As stated in 5 CFR 950.103(h), 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 OPM. See Campaign Locator.

Q.   Can CFC donors who give above a certain level be listed in a PCFO publication or recognition ceremony? Does the campaign have to get permission from all of the donors? Is it a breach of confidentiality?

A.   Recognition of employees who give above a certain level is permitted at CFC-related awards ceremonies, with the donor's permission. If the donor pledged to the PCFO, as a charitable organization, specifically and authorized his/her name release on the pledge form, the PCFO may list the name in a PCFO publication with the donor's permission. Please note that release of contribution amounts is not permitted, therefore the amount of the donation may not be noted in the PCFO's publication. The PCFO may not use the names of employees who authorized the release of their names if they donated to other participating charitable organizations, even members of the PCFO's federation. For more information see 5 CFR Part 950.601.

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

A.   No. Federal employees may be solicited to give only during the CFC campaign period.

Q.   Can the LFCC extend the campaign period based on local circumstances?

A.   The LFCC has the authority to determine the campaign period in its area. If an agency needs additional time, the LFCC may grant an extension No campaign may start before September 1 or be extended beyond December 15 without the permission of the Director.


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LOCAL ELIGIBILITY

Q.   Is a LFCC required to publish an announcement for the PCFO application?

A.   The LFCC must solicit applications on a competitive basis for the PCFO no later than a date to be determined by OPM and, if the LFCC exercises discretion to enter into a multi-year arrangement in accordance with OPM regulations, upon completion of the multi-year term. The multi-year arrangement cannot exceed three years. The LFCC shall solicit applications via outreach activities, including public notice in newspapers, postings on web sites, advertising in trade journals, dissemination among participating CFC charitable organizations and federations and/or outreach through local or state nonprofit associations and training centers, among others.

Q.   Is a Local Federal Coordinating Committee (LFCC) required to keep any type of data base, provide notice of the application period, and/or mail annual applications to charitable organizations?

A.   Yes. LFCCs must ensure that local charitable organizations are given adequate notice of the application period and process and that the applications are made available to interested parties. This may be done by posting the forms on the campaign website and/or sending the forms to charities via email. LFCCs can provide such notice through various public service announcements which include but are not limited to local newspapers, radio and television stations, etc. The LFCC should also ensure the PCFO maintains a mailing list of local charitable organizations that have requested information and tracks the receipt of completed charity applications in a database or by other means.

Q.   Why is a "dba" (Doing business as) required from the IRS for a name change? Can a State-issued "dba" be used instead of the IRS "dba"?

A.   OPM will accept a "dba" issued by the IRS or the State. If a nonprofit organization elects to do business under a name different from the one on their IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter, they must obtain a "dba" through either the IRS or the State and submit it with their application. While a charitable organization's eligibility status will not be decided based on the name, the name by which it is listed in the CFC Charity List, should it be found eligible, will depend on official documentation from the IRS or State sources. Additionally, ALL charitable organizations are required to include their Employee Identification Number (EIN) in their 25-word statement regardless of whether they are listed under their legal name or a "dba".

Q.   What is considered a "complete" IRS Form 990?

A.   A complete IRS Form 990 will include the entire Form 990 itself, and all applicable supplemental/supporting statements with the exception of Schedule B. The IRS Form 990 must also contain all appropriate signatures. Electronic IRS Forms 990 must be accompanied with IRS Form 8879-EO (IRS e-file Signature Authorization for an Exempt Organization") or Form 8453-EO ("Exempt Organization Declaration and Signature for Electronic Filing"). Both Form 8879-EO and 8453-EO require an officer's signature and declaration that the information contained in the document is true, correct, and complete.

Q.   Is a local charitable organization required to satisfy all independent eligibility criteria or is it allowed to use national or regional materials, especially if it is a chapter of a national organization or a site of a regional office?

A.   Bona-fide chapters or affiliates of a national organization that are not separately incorporated are permitted to submit the parent organization's audited financial statements, to the extent required, and 26 U.S.C 501(c)(3) tax exemption letter, buts must provide its own pro forma IRS Form 990, page 1 and Part V only, for CFC purposes. In order to use the parent organization's tax exemption letter and audited financial statements (if required), the local organization must provide a certification signed by either the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or CEO equivalent of the national organization stating that the local charitable organization operates as a bona-fide chapter or affiliate in good standing of the national organization and it is covered by the national organization's 501(c)(3) tax-exemption, IRS Form 990 and audited financial statements. A copy of the national organization's 501(c)(3) letter must accompany the CEO's certification.

Q.   Can an applicant provide an audit on appeal if it isn't ready by the application deadline?

A.   No. The required certifications and documentation must have been completed and submitted prior to the application filing deadline. Applications received that are incomplete may not be perfected during the appeal process. Further, documents that were not available at the time of the application deadline cannot be considered on appeal.

Q.   If a charitable organization is a state chapter of a national charitable organization is that considered statewide presence?

A.   No. An organization applying for statewide presence must prove that it provides or conducts real services, benefits, assistance or program activities covering 30 percent of a state's geographic boundaries or conducting real services, benefits, assistance or program activities affecting 30 percent of the state's population. This cannot be met solely on the basis of services provided through an "800" telephone number, the internet, the US Postal Service or a combination thereof. For more details see CFC Memo 2006-22.

Q.   State-wide presence vs. Local presence... please define.

A.   Local presence is defined as a staffed facility, office or portion of a residence dedicated exclusively to that organization, available to members of the public seeking its services or benefits. The facility must be open at least 15 hours a week and have a telephone dedicated exclusively to the organization. State-wide presence is acquired when an organization proves it provides or conducts real services, benefits, assistance or program activities covering 30 percent of a state's geographic boundaries or affecting 30 percent of a state's population. For more information, see 5CFR Part 950.204. PDF Format[90KB](The strongest case for state-wide and local presence should be made to the LFCC. OPM prefers that this assessment be appropriately decided at the local level; however, applicants still have the right to appeal if necessary.)


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FEDERATIONS

Q.   If a charitable organization lists with a federation during a campaign, is that federation required to complete the cycle of distribution? If the charitable organization signs up with another federation can the new federation take over distribution payments before the cycle ends?

A.   When a charitable organization joins a federation it must allow that federation to complete one full campaign cycle involving distribution payments. This does not prevent the charitable organization from signing with a new federation but the original federation must complete the distribution cycle. For example, a member organization of a federation in the 2006 CFC must allow that federation to complete its distribution for that member through the final payment, which would occur in 2008. The member organization is permitted to join another federation during 2007 but it may not take the distribution away from the original federation.

Q.   Can a local federation participate in more than one campaign... particularly neighboring campaigns?

A.   Yes. However, it must separately apply to all CFC's and meet the local presence or statewide presence requirements in each location.

Q.   Can a federation apply for inclusion in the CFC Charity List without including its member organizations?

A.   Not as a federation. It can be listed as an independent organization if it meets all required criteria.

Q.   Since a local or regional federation can be in more than one CFC, if one CFC accepts the federation can the neighboring campaign accept the application without having to review all the applications of all its members?

A.   LFCCs in a state may enter into agreements to have one committee review all statewide applications. Participating campaigns would honor the decision of that LFCC. In all other cases, each LFCC must fully review any and all charitable organizations applying for eligibility regardless of their status in other campaign areas. Admission into one campaign area is not a guarantee of admission into another.

Q.   Can you have a local federation with less than 15 eligible member organizations? What if they have 15 eligible member organizations but one member organization elects to list with another federation taking them to 14 member organizations?

A.   A federation must have 15 qualifying member organizations, in addition to itself at the time of its application, to be deemed eligible for participation as a federation in any CFC. In cases where federations have the same organizations eligible, the organization must write a letter to the LFCC determining which federation they want to be listed under during the campaign. Federations are only listed if they have 15 eligible members on their listing. If the federation has 14 or fewer members in addition to itself at the time of application, it should request its member organizations to apply as independent organizations. If a federation falls to 14 or fewer member organizations during the year, the federation that listed the organization that has left will continue to distribute that organization's funds through the remainder of the campaign period.