News & Updates


Wise Giving Wednesday: Charities and the U.S. Federal Government Shutdown

Jan 16, 2019

Last week’s Wise Giving Wednesday blog talked about the impact of the U.S. federal government shutdown on federal workers in terms of meeting immediate needs due to loss of pay. News accounts are reporting that food banks and other social service charities are already experiencing increased demands and a local United Way has launched an emergency fund. As BBB Wise Giving Alliance is located in the Washington, DC metro area, we are seeing these effects first hand. For example, Tuesday night, a local supermarket located just blocks from our office was offering free spaghetti dinners to anyone in the community. Businesses in other parts of the country, such as in Denver, are also offering help. We expect to see more of this type of generosity if the shutdown continues.

The impact of the government shutdown on charitable organizations, however, is not just the expected increased demands for their help. Here are some examples of how the situation expands its influence.

Loss of Federal Funding. A number of charities, such as homeless shelters and other social service groups are dependent on federal funding. The loss of this support will likely cause some organizations to cut back on their own staff and activities at a crucial time. Unfortunately, there are insufficient alternative resources to fill those gaps 

Expected Drop in Combined Federal Campaign. As reported on the website of the Office of Personnel Management, this past Friday, January 11th, was the solicitation deadline for federal employees donating to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). This unfortunate timing will likely significantly impact government employee participation in this charitable effort which supports many charities around the nation. While the CFC has experienced a drop in funding in recent years from a high of $282 million in 2009 to a low of $177 million in 2015, this shutdown is likely to result in even further reductions.

[BBB WGA update:  A recent memorandum from the Office of Personnel Management indicated that the January 11th deadline was extended for 31 days.]

Potential Volunteering Losses. Federal workers not only help charities with the combined campaign mentioned above, but also volunteer their time at a number of charities. It is difficult to judge what impact the shutdown will have on volunteering but some households will understandably be more focused on meeting their own needs while they are not receiving a salary.

While we do not have answers to these emerging problems, concerned donors are encouraged to donate to BBB Accredited Charities that are addressing some aspects these needs.  You can help verify a charity’s trustworthiness by viewing an evaluative report completed by BBB Wise Giving Alliance or a BBB in your area. Visit

Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video series, we are pleased to provide a video that features Janet Mintzer, President & CEO, Pearl S. Buck International (a BBB Accredited Charity) which carries out international exchange programs, cultural appreciation and education programs, child sponsorship, humanitarian aid, public exhibits, and the preservation and interpretation of the Pearl S. Buck House. 

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to if you are  interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one. 

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance