Local nonprofits could take a hit from federal changes


News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, June 5, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Summer camp's in full swing at the Boys and Girls Club of the CSRA.

"It is just such a blessing to be able to be there and to watch these kids have a positive place that they can go,” said Debby Kalliokoski, the resource director.

She says it’s a place where every penny counts.

"We cannot be here doing anything that we do without the monetary help,” she said. “I wish that we could, but we can't."

But a move by the federal government could swipe donations from the pockets of this local nonprofit and others.

"The total allocations could be affected by this, I believe,” Kalliokoski said.

What's happening could affect how donations from local federal workers reach nonprofits like the Boys and Girls Club.

“I am writing to express our deep concern over changes to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) in a proposed rule-making by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). These changes would execute a takeover of the locally controlled CFC and drastically reduce donations to charities in our community and our ability to help those most in need,” reads a letter authored by United Way of the CSRA President/CEO La Verne H. Gold.

Now, the United Way is encouraging members of the public to contact both Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., to reverse the potential changes to the OPM.

Right now, the United Way of the CSRA’s Sr. Director of Resource Development Rina Powell says the donations from the CSRA’s federal installments account for a sizable chunk.

"The largest contributor is Fort Gordon, who raised well over $300,000, the U.S. Department of Energy, also included in that is the Post Office, V.A. Medical Center, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” she said.

The changes from Washington means people here won't divvy up that money. Someone far away will. The United Way estimates employee participation could go down by 50 percent. The letter says that could mean $95 million nationwide won't be going to places like this local Boys and Girls club chapter.

"We're losing the local presence, so the education to employees of where exactly their dollars are going and what impact they're making in the local community,” Powell said.

Additionally, Kalliokoski says that could mean folks out at Savannah River Site, for example, might not donate because they won't see first-hand who they're giving to.

"We're able right now to talk to the federal employees one-on-one. With this change, potentially, we won't see the results that we've seen in the past,” she said.

Kalliokoski says it'll also be harder for those federal workers to donate. Under the new changes, they'll have to do it online on their own time, so she expects the number of donations could go down drastically. Right now, federal employees just have simple paper vouchers.

She says nonprofits will also be assessed an undisclosed fee now, too. She says this could discourage smaller nonprofits from participating in what’s traditionally been the largest and most successful workplace fundraising campaign in the world.

However, the United Way of the CSRA is leading the fight against these changes. News 12 could not reach either Rep. Wilson or Rep. Barrow for comment.

The following is information from the United Way email:

“We encourage you to submit your comments using the link below, which will direct you to the OPM Website. Select Solicitation of Federal Civilian and Uniformed Service Personnel for Contributions to Private Voluntary Organizationsand submit your comments.

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/04/08/2013-08017/solicitation-of-federal-civilian-and-uniformed-service-personnel-for-contributions-to-private

If you prefer to contact your local congressman, the information is below:

Congressman John Barrow
1450 Greene Street, Suite 550
Augusta, GA 30901
Phone: 706-722-4494
Fax: 706-722-4496

Congressman Joe Wilson
P.O. Box 104
Aiken, SC 29802
Phone: 803-642-6416
Fax: 803-642-6418

The deadline for final responses is June 7, 2013.”


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