Combined Federal Campaign

The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), sponsored by federal employees and military personnel, is the annual fundraising drive that runs from September 1 to December 15. The deadline for application is February each year. The money goes to thousands of ministries, but only if their applications are accepted for inclusion.

A ministry may qualify to receive money from CFC if it is listed as a 501(c)(3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, the entity must meet the eligibility and public accountability standards of Title 5, Chapter 950, of the code of Federal Regulations. Both national and local ministries are eligible.

National Organizations

To be eligible for participation as a national organization, a ministry must be listed as a 501(c)(3) that advances human health and welfare. It must have rendered such services to at least 15 states, or to a foreign country, during the three years immediately preceding the request to participate in the program. Service does not include ministry by mail or through a toll-free number. The ministry does not need to have an office in each state or country. The ministry must not be involved in lobbying or politicking beyond that which is allowed as part of the 501(c)(3) regulations.

In addition, a ministry applying for national status must show that it was audited by a certified public accountant over the preceding 18 months and must provide a complete copy of Form 990. If the ministry is small and does not file a 990, it should, nevertheless, complete and attach the first two pages of Form 990 to its Form 990-EZ.

The ministry also must provide a breakdown of expenditures for administration and fundraising. This calculation must be based on the data in Form 990 and is part of the information the CFC uses for determining eligibility and distributions.

Caution: If administrative or fundraising expenses exceed 25%, the application may be rejected unless there is a convincing explanation. National ministries also need to demonstrate that they are guided by a governing board on which no one with a material conflict of interest serves and on which the majority of members must serve without compensation.

The ministry needs to describe in 25 words or less what programs it provides as a charitable organization, certifying that it advertises the programs accurately, without exaggerating or misleading. This 25-word essay must contain a contact person, telephone number, and the ministry’s EIN so that it can be included as part of the information to the potential giver upon request. The ministry must promise that money received from the CFC will be used for the stated purposes and that no properties acquired from the contributions of the CFC will be sold or leased.

The ministry also must certify that it makes information available to the public as requested. This information may be its Form 990 or a comparable annual or regular report. Applications cannot be amended once they have been submitted. An officer who is declared in the application as having the authority to commit the ministry must sign the application.

Important: Failure to provide any of the information above will be considered failure to comply with the public accountability requirements under Section 950.203(a)(3) as cited above.

Local Organizations

To be eligible for funds, local ministries must provide substantial benefits in the local area of a CFC campaign, in an adjacent area, or have a substantial statewide presence. The deadline for receiving the application of a local ministry is set by the local committee coordinating the campaign and is usually in March or April.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.