DOINews: All DOI Employees: Fundraising in the Federal Workplace

Last edited 09/05/2019

September 8, 2014

To: All DOI Employees

From: Melinda Loftin, Designated Agency Ethics Official

Subject: Fundraising in the Federal Workplace

In recent weeks, the Departmental Ethics Office has received several inquiries regarding fundraising, most notably for the Ice Bucket Challenge that is everywhere on social media these days. In response, this is the perfect time to remind everyone of the rules regarding fundraising for charity in the Federal workplace.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the main source of guidance on Federal office fundraising. As a general rule, OPM forbids fundraising in the Federal workplace. This rule applies regardless of the worthiness of either the organization conducting the fundraising or the intended recipient or whether the fundraising organization is one officially recognized by the Department.

Department employees shall not officially endorse or appear to endorse fundraising for any non-Federal entity. Fundraising done by Government employees in their personal capacities should not use official time, resources or personnel in connection with the activity, nor should the individual's official title or authority be invoked in connection with the personal fundraising efforts. In addition, employees engaged in personal fundraising may not solicit funds from a subordinate or from a prohibited source.

There are two exceptions to the general prohibition. One is for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), which is the only authorized solicitation of employees in the Federal workplace on behalf of charitable organizations. The CFC is conducted during a specific time period—typically September through December—at every Federal agency, including the Department of the Interior. The other exception applies infrequently: Upon a written request, the Director of OPM may grant permission for solicitations of Federal employees outside the CFC in support of victims in cases of extreme/widespread emergencies and disasters.

The rule prohibiting fundraising in the workplace does not apply to the collection of gifts in kind, such as food, clothing, or toys. Solicitation of gift-in-kind donations is not considered fundraising and is permissible at any time throughout the year. Such solicitations cannot, however, be accompanied by a request for money to purchase the items.

If you have questions about the fundraising rules or any fundraising activity, please call your local ethics counselor or the Departmental Ethics Office at (202) 208-7960.

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