CFC: The Debate to Donate

  • Published
  • By Capt. Adam Rector
  • 36 Wing AFSO21 Program Manager
As this year's Combined Federal Campaign begins wrapping up, many of you are currently debating whether or not to donate. As I have been going around talking to people about CFC I have heard many reasons why people choose not to donate. Below are the top three reasons I have heard and my response to them:

1) The CFC Lists Charity X and I disagree with what Charity X stands for. Therefore I am not donating to Charity Y through the CFC.

Answer: The CFC is a federal entity and so takes no moral, ethical or religious stand on what charities it lists. The only requirement is that they be legal Non-profit Organizations approved through the IRS. The fact is that by choosing not to donate to Charity Y through the CFC you are hurting Charity Y and Benefiting Charity X. The reason for this goes into how the CFC distributes Non-designated funds. If a person donates, but does not put a specific charity on their CFC form or if a unit holds a fund raiser, those funds will go to the CFC in General and the donation will be listed as a non-designated donation. At the end of the campaign all these donations are pooled together into a large undesignated fund and distributed out to the 2400 charities listed in the CFC booklet.

The way the CFC determines how much each charity gets is based on the percentage of designated funds (donations made to specific charities) the charity receives. For example, let us say there are just two charities, Charity X (dislike) and Charity Y (like). You donate $100 to Charity Y through the CFC. Now let us say charity X receives $500 in designated funds and Charity Y also gets $500 in designated funds. This means that each charity got 50% of designated funds, so if there are $2000 in non-designated funds, then charity X and Charity Y will each get 50% or $1000.

However, let's say that you decided not to give because you disliked Charity X. That would mean that Charity X would still have $500 of designated funds, but Charity Y would have only $400. Therefore Charity X now received 55% of designated funds and Charity Y received 45%. Which means Charity X will receive $1100 of the non-designated funds and Charity Y will only receive $900. So your decision not to donate to Charity Y because you disliked Charity X actually resulted in Charity X receiving $100 more and Charity Y receiving $100 less.

Furthermore, if a train leaves Boston traveling 55 miles an hour and a train leaves Portland traveling 35 miles per hour. Just kidding, but I hope you were able to understand that lengthy explanation.

2) The CFC takes 4.9% of all donations, I want to make sure the charity gets every penny I donate.

Answer: This is absolutely true. 4.9% of every donation goes to pay the administration and overhead costs of the CFC. However, the CFC allows you to donate through payroll deductions which allows the vast majority of donors to donate more towards their charity. The average donation last year through cash donations was $71. The average donation through payroll deductions was over $200.

So if you decided to donate $71 through the CFC, only $67.45 reached your charity. If you had decided to contact the charity yourself, receive a donation form and send it back into the charity; you would have given the charity an extra $3.55.

Now, let's say you decided that you could give up just $10 per month to your charity through payroll deductions. That means that at the end of the year you would have donated $120 to your charity and it would have received $114. Giving that $10 a month was probably much easier than paying $71 in a single payment and it resulted in your charity receiving $43 more than it would have if you had donated outside the CFC.

3) I believe the amount you give to charity should be private and the CFC is not private.

Answer: The only person that sees how much you donate is your CFC key worker and the payroll office. Individual amounts given are not provided to supervisors or commanders. Providing individual donation information to anyone would be against the law. All your commanders are provided is summary information on their unit as a whole. Furthermore, when you send a payment to a charity they track how much you sent and most will add you to their mailing list, so that they can request more donations in the future.

The CFC actually allows you to decide whether or not a charity is told that you donated to it and how much you chose to donate. This can allow you to make a truly private donation and cut down on the number of charity solicitations you receive through the mail.

In responding to the above reasons I am not trying to talk you into making a donation. I am only trying to ensure that you have all the facts you need to make a decision. The fact is that the CFC is a service. It exists to give you the opportunity to easily make a donation to the charity of your choice. The decision to donate is completely up to you.