Fisher House at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, is one of over 20,000 charities that benefit from the Combined Federal Campaign. The house, which has served military families here since 1994, is part of a network of 84 homes located near major military or VA hospitals | Photo By David Poe |
With almost 200 campaigns underway across the country and around the world this fall, the Combined Federal Campaign, the world’s largest and most successful workforce charitable program, kicked off at Fort Bliss October 9 and will run until December 20.
Approximately 40,000 Team Bliss troops and civilians can choose from more than 20,000 charitable organizations to give monetary donations or volunteer time via the CFC website or through a traditional pledge form from their office or unit CFC project officer.
Last year, CFC donors contributed more than $93 million in funds and volunteer time. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, CFC pledges will be electronic-only after the 2021 campaign.
Retirees who receive an annuity can now also contribute through an allotment, or by credit card. Retirees accounted for $1.8 million worth of monetary and volunteer-hour contributions in 2018.
According to Marion Walker, a manager with the Fort Bliss Financial Readiness Program at Army Community Service, as well as this year’s installation CFC coordinator, CFC is a convenient way to help others, but, historically, it wasn’t always that way.
Yesterday’s federal charity drives
Although fundraising for charitable organizations in the federal workplace goes back to the 1940s, the authority to do so wasn’t established until 1961 when President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10927, which authorized the U.S. Civil Service Commission to lay the groundwork for fundraising within the ranks of federal service.
Because of multiple campaigns for various non-profit organizations throughout the year, many of which collected cash only through complicated envelope systems, in 1964, a pilot “combined” program was rolled out in six U.S. cities, consolidating all of the drives into one.
As a result, contributions went up, in some places by 125 percent, and the new once-a-year effort was well-received by managers and employees alike, leading to a formal adoption of today’s CFC during the Nixon Administration in 1971.
A barometer for success, donations swelled from $12.9 million in 1964 to $82.8 million in 1979.
Since 1961, the CFC has raised $8.2 billion for nonprofits, ranging from large organizations like the American Red Cross to less-visible local organizations, several of which reside in the Borderland, with 30 in El Paso alone.
Other than Army Emergency Relief, the CFC is the only effort that allows solicitation of troops and federal employees for donations. Project officers are volunteers within the federal workforce who oversee program communication and transparent facilitation of pledges from their organizations.
Fort Bliss is located in CFC’s zone nine, named “Desert Southwest,” which covers West Texas and all of New Mexico, one of 36 zones designated by the program. In 2018, donations from Bliss added up to almost $125,000, as well as 85 pledged volunteer hours.
With so many nonprofits to choose from, Walker said she encourages potential givers to check out the website or look through the printed listing of charities to find organizations they wish to support.
“We can choose something that is close to our hearts, that personally moved us at one point and now we want to support that cause,” Walker said. “If it is military families, veterans services, or if you are not sure who to donate to, consider your local charities that serve Fort Bliss or our El Paso community.”
She added that whether Team Bliss members donate money or time, regardless of the amounts they can spare, participating in CFC can have residual benefits.
“Volunteering your time at a local shelter or cause can give you a chance to meet new people and you will see the visible impact,” she said. “However, if you don’t think you can make the time, then consider a monetary contribution. A little time or money goes a long way.”