Donations to Largest Charities Up More Than 10 Percent, Study Finds

Driven by high-net-worth donors who benefited from a booming stock market, giving to the largest U.S. charities in 2013 grew by more than 10 percent on a year-over-year basis, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

The latest installment of the Chronicle's annual Philanthropy 400 list, which ranks the largest charities in the country by fundraising revenue, is dominated by charitable gift funds that offer donor-advised funds to high-net-worth individuals and families, including three of the top ten spots on the list — Fidelity Charitable (No. 2), Schwab Charitable (No. 4), and Vanguard Charitable (No. 10). The survey also found that while revenue at United Way Worldwide, which again topped the list, fell 1.4 percent, gift totals were up at Fidelity (11.9 percent), Schwab (165.2 percent), and Vanguard (18.6 percent). The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which saw a 39.9 percent increase in revenue due in part to a $1 billion donation from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, ranked eighth on the Chronicle's list.

Several nonprofits that were once mainstays at the top of the list have lost ground. They include the American Cancer Society, which ranked 16th on this year's list and 7th in 2010; the AmeriCares Foundation, which ranked 25th on this year's list and 3rd in 2010; and World Vision, which ranked 26th on this year's list and 8th five years ago. Rounding out the top ten this year were the Salvation Army (No. 3), Feeding America (No. 5), Task Force for Global Health (No. 6), Catholic Charities USA (No. 7), and the American Red Cross (No. 9).

With the number of nonprofits and demand for their services continuing to increase, "more resources are needed for donor cultivation and stewardship, since there is so much more competition for the charitable dollar," Sue Paresky, senior vice president at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (No. 78), told the Chronicle. Between 2009 and 2013, Dana-Farber increased its development staff by more than 20 percent, while gift revenue grew 30 percent, to $260.5 million in 2013. Fundraising "has totally changed since the recession," said Paresky. "It's harder to raise money, and you need more touch points to make a gift happen. Donors want to give to organizations that do the best work and pay attention to them."

Holly Hall, Anu Narayanswamy, Sandhya Kambhampati. "A Year of Recovery: Big Gains at America’s Top Charities." Chronicle of Philanthropy 10/19/2014.