The annual Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) and the innovative means employed by fundraisers present new questions and challenges to fundraisers and ethics counselors. Below is general guidance on fundraising for CFC as well as guidance on some specific fundraising techniques. Please note that the CFC is an official fundraising program for Federal personnel. Consequently, events authorized below may not be permitted for other organizations.
Gambling: Section 2-302 of the JER and 5 CFR 735.201 prohibit gambling on Government property or while on official duty. However, clever fundraisers have developed lottery-type games, door-prizes, and similar events that are not gambling. To be considered gambling, a game must have three elements:
Events that do not include all three of these elements are not gambling events. For example, a drawing using CFC pledge cards, when it is clear that the pledge cards may include no contribution, is not gambling because the participants in the drawing are not required to furnish consideration to enter the drawing. Beware, however, that overzealous fundraisers, in their solicitations, may fail to indicate that no contribution is required.
Participation of Outside Sources Including Contractor Personnel:
CFC is an authorized solicitation of Federal personnel only. It does not authorize solicitations of outside sources, such as contractors or contractor personnel who may be working in the Federal workplace. Since CFC is an official program, we may not solicit from businesses or people who are not Federal personnel. (5 CFR 950.103(g))
However, contractor personnel, credit union employees and other persons employed on Federal premises, as well as retired Federal employees may make single contributions to the CFC through cash, check, or money order. While they may make voluntary contributions, they may not be solicited. In addition they may voluntarily participate in various fundraising efforts, such as purchasing raffle tickets, buying food at food sales, or purchasing services offered as part of a fundraiser.
If non-Governmental business entities, such as vendors, local merchants or Government contractors seek to contribute, there are two avenues available that may be available to them.
They may contribute to the Principal Combined Fund Organization (PCFO), which is a private fundraising entity affiliated with the CFC. Since the PCFO is separate from the Government, transactions are outside of the CFC regulations. The PCFO is, however, a creation of the CFC, and agency ethics officials must ensure that contributors are not making contributions that affect or give the reasonable appearance of affecting any agency business relationship or procurement.
The CFC office receiving the offer may accept such contributions in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2601, which allows the Secretaries of Defense and the Military Departments to accept gifts to the agency. CFC offices that receive such offers, including offers of prizes to be used for door prizes, raffles, or other fundraising events, should consult with the cognizant legal counsel to ensure that any donations from outside entities comply with agency gift acceptance regulations.
Solicitation of Prizes from Senior Officials: Fundraisers sometimes ask senior officials to volunteer their status, position, and time as prizes for auctions or other fundraising events. For example, prizes could include a round of golf with the agency head, donuts served to an office by the installation commander, etc. While senior officials may offer such personal contributions, the prerequisite that all contributions to CFC be truly voluntary applies to them as well as less senior personnel. Furthermore, in our structured, hierarchical environment, requests from a senior to a junior, particularly if they are in the same chain of command, inherently suggest coercion. In addition, fundraisers should ensure that such personal-service prizes are not inappropriate or potentially embarrassing. Finally, remember that some prizes, such as a commanding officer offering to provide a personal tour of a warship, also involve the use of Government resources, which invoke fiscal considerations. (See below.)
Use of Government Resources to Support CFC: Since the CFC is an official program, limited use of resources, including appropriated funds, is authorized in its support. Appropriated funds may be used when the proper authority reasonably determines that the proposed expenditure is logically connected to the appropriation's purpose, and that no statute prohibits it. The use of appropriated funds is usually limited to expenses related to kick-offs, victory events, awards, and other events to build support for the CFC. The use of appropriated funds for refreshments; personal gifts; or any other item or activity that is not essential to support the CFC is not authorized. In making the determination, managers should be mindful of all the surrounding circumstances, including the amount of the proposed expenditure, the benefit expected to be gained, the importance to the mission served by the appropriation, prior Departmental practice, and possible public perceptions as to the appropriateness of the expenditure. For the DoD CFC overseas program, this authority extends to the use of installation-level CFC administrative and logistical support, and the use of military aircraft to transport CFC materials on a "space available" basis.
Fundraising events must be:
Ethics officials should work with CFC coordinators from the start of the campaign to ensure fundraising events and strategies comply with the spirit and letter of applicable regulations. It is much easier to help design a successful event in the beginning, than to tell the CFC coordinator on the day of the event (after the tickets have been sold, prizes obtained, and hall rented) that the fundraiser may not be held.
DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this advisory is to disseminate relevant information and sources of general guidance, policy and law on Government Ethics issues to the Department of Defense ethics community. Advisories are not intended to be and should not be cited as authoritative guidance, DoD policy, or law.