The Combined Federal Campaign takes place every fall, usually from mid-September through December. Employees receive a pledge card and often a "catalog" that lists all eligible charities – more than 4,000 in the DC area.
Employees decide which charities should receive their gifts. They do so by using a 5-digit code number (we provide that number for every charity in this website). They can only choose charities that have been accepted into the Campaign. Write-ins are not allowed. No other charity benefits from an employee's gift.
CFC campaigns are run locally. In 2014 there were 151 local CFCs, a number that has been steadily decreasing. Local CFC campaigns have been administered by a local "Principal Combined Fund Organization," or PCFO. In most cases this is the local United Way (in the DC area, it is EarthShare). Within each agency or military base, a volunteer "keyworker" helps run the campaign.
Each eligible charity can choose to become part of a CFC "federation" such as United Way or EarthShare, or it can be "unaffiliated." Federations help their members stay eligible, promote their members and collect and distribute donations. They charge a fee that varies according to the federation.
However, all of this is changing. PCFOs are being eliminated as of 2017, replaced by “Outreach Coordinators.” The task of collecting and distributing the money will be done by about five “Central Campaign Administrators.” Federations will no longer be allowed to collect a percentage of its members’ CFC donations. Instead, they will have to charge a fee.
The CFC itself will also be charging charities a fee to participate in the CFC, rather than collecting a percentage of each charity’s CFC donations. These changes have been very controversial and have already been delayed by implementation issues for two years. LINK TO HOW WILL NEW CFC RULES AFFECT THE CAMPAIGN?