United States Office of Government Ethics, Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch

February 23, 2016

As explained in the general discussion of outside employment limitations, Subpart H of 5 C.F.R. part 2635 contains a number of provisions governing particular outside activities. One of those provisions concerns fundraising.

Under 5 C.F.R. § 2635.808, an executive branch employee must comply with two rules when fundraising in a personal capacity:

  • An employee may not use or permit the use of the employee's official Government title, position, or any authority associated with his or her office to further a fundraising effort. However, this rule does not prohibit an employee from being addressed as "The Honorable" or by a military or ambassadorial rank, if applicable.

Example: Emily may not permit the use of her official Government title in an organization's invitation to a fundraising event, and may not be identified by that title at the event.

  • An employee may not request funds or other support from a subordinate or from a person whom the employee knows to be a "prohibited source" (as defined in 5 C.F.R. § 2635.203), even if the employee does not refer to his or her official Government title or position. However, if an employee's request is conveyed through the media or is addressed to a group of many persons in a mass mailing or otherwise, this rule is not violated if the request reaches a subordinate or a prohibited source, unless the employee knew that the request was targeted at subordinates or prohibited sources.

Example: Provided that Jason makes no mention of his official Government title or position, he may help raise funds for an organization by signing a request for donations and mailing it to 300 homes in his community. He may do so even though he knows that some homes are occupied by agency contractors and that a few are occupied by his subordinates. However, even if he omits any reference to his official title or position, he could not sign the letter if he knows it is directed primarily to agency contractors or subordinates.

Note: Section 2635.808 applies differently to special Government employees.

Fundraising activities must also comply with other legal authorities. For example, under Subpart G of 5 C.F.R. part 2635, an employee may not use Government property, nonpublic information, or time (including the time of a subordinate) in support of a private fundraising effort. However, an employee may give an official speech at a fundraiser if the employee's agency determines that the particular fundraiser is an appropriate forum for the speech, and may use Government resources to prepare the speech. The speaker may be identified by his or her official Government title or position, but may not request funds or other support for the sponsor or beneficiary of the event.

Section 2635.808 does not govern fundraising undertaken as part of an employee's official duties, but notes the following:

  • An employee may engage in official fundraising only if authorized to do so in accordance with a statute or as otherwise determined by the employee's agency.
  • An employee may engage in official fundraising in the Government workplace only in accordance with Office of Personnel Management regulations governing the Combined Federal Campaign, at 5 C.F.R. part 950.

The information on this page is not a substitute for individual advice. Agency ethics officials should be consulted about specific situations.