Since 1961, over $8 billion has been raised for charities by military service members and federal employees through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Last year alone, $93 million was contributed. Going back over 50 years, the CFC has made giving easier, by supporting work-place giving. There are over 20,000 charities registered with the CFC, giving service members and federal employees more options than ever before to contribute straight from their paycheck.

What is the Combined Federal Campaign?

What Is The Combined Federal Campaign? Should You Care?

Years ago—in the time of payday activities and before Instagram—service members were contacted by the local CFC representative and installation-wide campaigns launched to encourage participation. Young service members would start giving $5 or $10 a month to a charity or two and some wouldn’t even think twice about signing up.

But as the years go on and CFC campaigns moved digital, the giving dipped. People like to be asked in person to give to a charitable organization and having someone assigned to the CFC launch each year increased morale and made it seem more like a team effort.

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In 2017, CFC launched a time pledge portion of the campaign, where service members could give of their time, not just of their money. This was huge in the millennial community—which makes up the majority of our military at this point—as millennials are big supporters of nonprofits and volunteering. Millennials make up almost ¼ of the American population, yet only add up to 11% of the giving population, as reported in Military Families Magazine in November 2018. Over the first two years of the time pledge program, over 24,000 hours were pledged—an estimated $5 million of time.

Should You Give?

What Is The Combined Federal Campaign? Should You Care?

Giving through the CFC has been down for the last few years—for several reasons. But heading into the 2019-2020 CFC season, there are still many reasons to give through the CFC.

  • CFC is the world’s largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign.
  • It’s the most inclusive workplace giving campaign in the world.
  • There are over 20,000 participating nonprofit charitable organizations.
  • CFC partners with national and local nonprofit organizations.
  • It’s easy! You can do everything online.  

As with any giving, you should do your research. Things to keep in mind when looking at charitable organizations (any of them, not just through the CFC) is how much they spend on overhead, salaries, and other administrative expenses. You want your money to make a difference, and if 50% of donations go into an executive’s pocket, you need to know that! Check out Charity Navigator to see how your interests stack up.

If you decided to give through the CFC, it is as easy as setting up an allotment. In fact, that’s pretty much what it is, you fill out a form (either in person or online) and then it’s done! This year, the open period for pledging and filling out the form runs from September 9, 2019, through January 12, 2020. The money will start coming out of your paycheck in the new year. Retirees are also eligible to give through the CFC, and newly hired employees can begin a pledge at any time.

Who Can You Give To?

What Is The Combined Federal Campaign? Should You Care?

The beauty of the Combined Federal Campaign is that there is such a variety of charitable organizations involved, everyone can find something that aligns with them. The earliest organizations involved included the American Red Cross, and now there are over 20,000 organizations to choose from. You can easily view them online and choose the ones that mean the most to you.

Each service branch has an aid or relief society that participates in the CFC, and there are more military service nonprofits than you can count on the list. You can also donate to charities in the fields of education, employment, international aid, and sports.

Where We Give

What Is The Combined Federal Campaign? Should You Care?

We give to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, says DMM Travel Editor Heather Walsh. “The funds go directly to helping Marines and Sailors around the world with short-term loans, pay for staff who can sit with families and do a budget – a skill that can be repeated when finances change. I also used to volunteer for them, so I am familiar with what they do and love their mission.”

Walsh also said her family contributes to the USO through the Combined Federal Campaign. “They do a lot for families on bases in addition to the airport lounges and most of which is supported by volunteers. Without funding from givers, their programs would not function.”

Over the years, our family has given to the Appalachian Trail Conservatory and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. These organizations represent past enjoyment and our love and support for military families. Other organizations we support throughout the year include Team Rubicon and Operation Teammate, both with our time and our money.


If you’re a military family at any point in your career and you’ve not tried the CFC before, it’s not too late. Check out the website or talk to your local CFC representative during the open window this fall.

WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out Getting Your Kids in the Giving Spirit

What Is The Combined Federal Campaign? Should You Care?

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Photo Credit: Pixabay, USO, Team Rubicon, CFC

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