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Commerce and Philanthropy Part 3: The Philanthropy 400

October 29, 2012

For the past two weeks, CSR Now! has focused on billionaire philanthropists (October 15, 2012) and corporate employee philanthropists (October 22, 2012). This week, we'll focus on the nonprofit organizations that they give to.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy's Philanthropy 400 was out last week. This is a list of the top 400 nonprofit organizations ranked by the amount of contributions received from private sources. According to the Chronicle, the charities on this list raise $1 of every $4 donated by individuals, corporations and foundations.

The 400 nonprofit organizations that comprise the list raised a median 7.5% more in 2011 than they did in 2010, the third straight year of gains for this group. However, these same organizations project a median gain of less than 1% in 2012.

The top ranked charity on the list? United Way Worldwide with $3.9 billion raised. While this was a 1.2% increase from 2010, it is 8% below the amount raised before the recession, adjusting for inflation. Still, it's leaps and bounds ahead of the next highest, Fidelity Charitable, which is really a composite of 52,000 donor-advised funds, with more than $1.7 billion raised. The third top ranked charity, The Salvation Army, raised almost $1.7 billion, but still dropped from second to third place as its donations decreased by 6% from the year before.

Here is the top 10 from The Philanthropy 400:

  • United Way Worldwide
  • Fidelity Charitable
  • Salvation Army
  • Catholic Charities USA
  • Task Force for Global Health
  • Feeding America
  • American Red Cross
  • Food for the Poor
  • American Cancer Society
  • World Vision

Also ranking high were The Y (no. 11), Habitat for Humanity (no. 13), Goodwill Industries (no. 14), AmeriCares Foundation (no. 17), Boys & Girls Clubs of America (no. 18), American Heart Association (no. 26), Nature Conservancy (no. 27) and U.S. Fund for UNICEF (no. 32).

It's interesting to compare this list with the top charities supported by the Forbes 400 and our own American Express employees.

While Forbes does not report on the organizations who receive the most support from the 400 individuals on their list, they do list organizations that attract large private contributions.

Some of these organizations grouped by subject matter (not dollar amounts) are:

  • Scholarship America
  • United Negro College Fund
  • Teach for America
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Heart Association
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure
  • Nature Conservancy
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Food for the Poor
  • AmeriCares Foundation
  • World Vision

At American Express, our employees last year donated the most to these national organizations:

  • American Red Cross
  • Junior Achievement
  • United Way
  • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
  • United Negro College Fund
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund
  • American Diabetes Association
  • Global Impact
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

So, while there is some overlap, these lists point to the diversity of organizations that receive contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations – engines of economic growth and prosperity – demonstrating once again that commerce and philanthropy really do go together.

If you have a comment or question, please share it here.

P.S. Did you know that no. 400 on The Philanthropy 400 list (Saint Louis University) still raised almost $50 million in 2011?


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