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Scene, Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autumn is here, and Combined Federal Campaign forms flutter down on military installations like falling leaves. Do you know who is asking for your money or where it goes if you give it?

David Knight, Pacific Director of the CFC Overseas, offered to provide some information about the campaign, and readers offered questions.

First, some basics:

n The Combined Federal Campaign is the only campaign authorized to raise funds for charity in federal workplaces.

n The campaign raises money for about 2,000 charities, each meeting specific guidelines, including tax-exempt status.

n Donors choose where their money goes. Donations can be divided any way the giver chooses.

n Donations can be set up through pay allotments or credit card, using a paper or online form. One-time donations are also accepted.

n Pledges are made in the fall. Allotments, if used, begin in January.

n In Europe and the Pacific, this year’s campaign runs Oct. 1 through Dec. 14.

Some readers had questions and comments about the program:

Renee: How much gets lost to administrative costs of the CFC? If I give directly to Red Cross, there is a certain amount that goes to their operating expenses and the remainder goes to assist others. If I give to the Red Cross through the CFC, does Red Cross get the full amount?

CFC donations reduce administrative costs for beneficiary organizations, Knight said. “If you donate to a charity directly, they will have administration costs on their side.” He said administrative costs for the CFC average less than 10 percent.

Donations to Family Support and Youth Programs are an exception. Those funds “come back to family and youth programs in your area, one hundred percent without any admin costs being deducted,” Knight said.

Rebecca: What is the added benefit of giving through CFC rather than through private organizations and churches?

“If people want to give directly to a charity, great,” Knight said. ‘Most of the time, people don’t think about writing a check or donating on a monthly basis, and charities really rely on our contributions.”

CFC giving is convenient, he said, because donors can give to multiple charities with one sum. Knight said another benefit is that all the charities in the CFC have been screened.

A reader who asked to remain anonymous expressed concern about pressure to participate in CFC fund raising: “Isn’t this undue influence, or whatever that’s called in the military when everyone seems to know what you do or do not give?”

Knight said that regulations governing the CFC prohibit “coercive activity.” Contributors who wish to remain private, he said, can submit pledge forms in a regular envelope, labeled “confidential.” These are opened only by specific CFC project officers, who may not reveal any contributions or names.

The CFC’s goal, Knight said, is to give everyone the opportunity to contribute, not to apply pressure. Participation goals are set by an area or command, he said, and one dollar, the minimum donation accepted, counts as participation.

To find donation forms and information about the CFC, go to www.cfcover seas.org. A search engine to find specific charities will be available at the Web site beginning in October, Knight said.

More information on the Combined Federal Campaign and the programs it helps will appear in Stars and Stripes’ “2007 CFC Guide” on Oct. 13.

Terri Barnes is a military spouse and mother of three. She lives in Germany, where her husband is stationed at Ramstein AB. Send questions or comments to her at spousecalls@stripes.com. See the spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.

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