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As one of the largest workplace giving campaigns in the world, the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) has enabled Federal employees and now retirees to pledge more than $8.6 billion to their favorite local, national, and international causes since 1961.
"Once a campaign exclusively for Federal employees, thanks to an executive order in 2016, civilian and military retirees can now continue their giving through the CFC with the ability to make a direct deduction right from their annuity," explained Keith Willingham, director of the OPM Office of the Combined Federal Campaign. Last year, giving through the CFC topped $80 million.
"The CFC and charities in this campaign are so appreciative of the generosity of retirees. We could not do what we do without retirees who voluntarily support the annual campaign," said Mr. Willingham.
One of those shining examples of a military retiree supporting the CFC is Ray Sutton (USN, ret.).
A revelation about service came to Master Chief Ray Sutton at the Franconia Metro Station outside Washington, D.C. one autumn Sunday. He had just said goodbye to his wife and children and boarded the train with his seabag on the first leg of his deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan. He was joined on the train by a group of happy football fans heading to a Sunday afternoon game at FedEx field.
His deployment into the war zone was a voluntary eight-month individual augmentation.
The thought swept across his mind: "I am sacrificing my family and time with my growing children so that you can do what you are doing right now – having fun at a football game."
Commitment to service was not new to Master Chief Sutton, now a retiree. The North Carolina native joined the U.S. Navy at age 20 with a degree in Law Enforcement. Initially, he was a recruiting commander in the Great Lakes region helping civilians become sailors.
On every deployment, not only did he notice the role of nonprofits more and more, but he too participated in events supporting communities during port visits. He also received support directly from some CFC-supported charities.
"When we left Fort Jackson to fly to Maine, one of the CFC-supported charities was there in the middle of the night with food and drinks for us. In Afghanistan, I was able to record a Book-on-Tape through another organization for my 9-year-old Ryan and 5-years-old twins, Sarah and Seth.” These activities may seem small, but they helped him feel supported during his time away from home.
When he retired from active duty in 2014, Sutton did a lot of volunteer work with his church teaching Sunday School, working with the local food bank and with the Adopt-A-Highway program. His extensive personal service and leadership in the U.S. Navy eventually drew him back into a civilian position within the Department of the Navy (DON) where he oversees manpower, events, and charitable campaign projects – including the CFC. Prior to his promotion, Ray was the DON charitable campaign manager responsible for DON raising over $10 million through the CFC.
The CFC is more than just giving to charities. Leaders like Mr. Sutton say the entire concept embodies deliberate partnerships between government employees and charities to help those who need it the most.
Since his retirement in 2014, he has had more time to spend camping with his family. But his commitment to service not only influences his co-workers as he oversees charitable programs for the DON, it also permeates his family. Even his wife, Cindi, is in a career of service as a school nurse and supervisor of nurses for several schools in the Virginia suburbs south of Washington, D.C. His eldest daughter is the wife of a Chicago firefighter and works in childcare. Now, his youngest children are grown and in college and beyond.
"Before I got involved in the CFC, I just wrote a check for a flat amount. Once I learned about allotments, I realized that a little goes a long way: $20 from my paycheck becomes $520 a year. Charities know it's coming and can expect it," explains Mr. Sutton.
Many civilian retirees and former members of the military like to maintain some of the benefits of giving through the CFC, such as having Federal employees screen a list of qualified charities, being able to give via allotment, or the option of giving anonymously. Mr. Sutton says keeping those benefits is as easy as 1-2-3.
First, choose your cause. Whether you care about youth development, helping families, or animal welfare — the CFC has more than 5,000 pre-screened charities for any cause you want to support. You can even give to multiple charities with one pledge.
Second, go to cfcgiving.opm.gov to pledge. The online pledge portal allows you to easily start or renew your pledge each year and offers the full range of pledge options for one-time or recurring gifts via monthly deduction from your annuity; credit/debit card; or e-check.
If you previously supported CFC charities in a civilian or military career, you could transfer that gift to your annuity by updating your CFC profile in the CFC’s Online Giving System. If you are new to the CFC, you can enter a new pledge.
Visit www.givecfc.org to learn more about the campaign, participating charities, and opportunities. If you have questions, then call the CFC Help Center at 1-800-797-0098 (8 a.m. - 6 p.m. CST) or visit: cfcgiving.opm.gov/contact.
Page updated December 23, 2022