Charity donations from Florida's state workers have seen a dramatic drop in recent years, and some point to the work of an out-of-state vendor for spurring the decline.
The Associated Press reports that state workers donated more than $3.3 million in 2010 through Florida's State Employees' Charitable Campaign. But this year, state workers only contributed $280,000.
Donations took a sharp decline after state officials shifted control of the annual charity drive from the United Way of Florida to New Jersey-based vendor Solix.
"The heart of the state employee was into the donation, they saw the donation helping the community and that was their focus," said ASFCME Region 2 president Richard Flamm.
Flamm says state workers have neglected to donate directly out of their paycheck because, according to an AP report, Solix was getting paid more than it was distributing to local charities.
According to state officials, the financial management vendor would have taken a 63% cut of donations in 2016-2017. The state has a negotiated a fix fee with Solix for $180,000.
"Most of it went to a private company, so it's a little disheartening," said Flamm.
Florida Dept. of Management Services officials suspended the state's contract with Solix after the company said it could not restructure its fees.
Without a fiscal agent like Solix, workers are no longer able to deduct contributions from their paychecks.
Getting rid of a convenient way to donate, some fear will hurt local charities and non-profits throughout the state.
"Deductions out of your paycheck are virtually costless, so there's no reason not to do it," said Flamm.
United Way Suncoast received a portion of donations from Florida's State Employees' Charitable Campaign.
The group funds 120 programs across four Tampa Bay counties.
"Well, certainly many people appreciate the convenience of payroll deduction. You kind of don't miss it when it comes out of the check when you're used to it," said Deanna Willsey, chief marketing officer, United Way Suncoast.
Statement from Dept. of Management Services:
This year’s Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign ended with record-low pledges.
After a decade-long trend of continual decline, it is clear—our state employees prefer to donate to their favorite charities directly, rather than using a government program.
We cannot continue to allow a situation where charities receive an unreasonable portion of campaign proceeds.
After considering all options and working with the vendor, Solix, we have agreed to amicably end our contractual arrangement and suspend the campaign for the 2017 year.
As a result, payroll deductions pledges for the 2016-2017 FSECC will not be processed. I am confident our state employees will continue to directly support the many charitable causes and organizations they believe in.