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Nation’s largest charities average 88 percent for programs

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What are the biggest charities in the United States?

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In one of its famous lists, Forbes magazine has listed the 50 largest U.S. charities based on private donations for 2013, the last year that complete figures are available. Donations can be cash, securities or goods.

Not surprisingly, once again United Way led the list with $3.87 billion in donations, though the huge charity saw a slight drop (1.5 percent) from the previous year’s $3.97 billion. Next were the Salvation Army, which had a 10 percent increase, and Feeding America, which saw a 22 percent increase from the year before, moving it up from No. 4 to No. 3 on the list.

Overall, the 50 charities saw a 3 percent increase in donations, totaling $31 billion overall. Not included in the ranking are government grants, investment returns and fees for services.

The magazine also measured the effectiveness rate or “charitable commitment,” the percentage of donations that were used for the charitable purpose of the organization, as opposed to management, certain overhead expenses and fundraising. The average for all of the top 50 charities was 88 percent. Charities that receive in-kind gifts – goods and services – tend to have higher percentages.

Forbes also looked at fundraising efficiency and found that it averaged 92 percent. So, basically, it cost the top 50 charities an average of 8 cents to earn $1 in donations. The percent can vary widely depending on the type of charity and the fundraising methods necessary.

Here is Forbes’ list of the top 50 charities, based on donations, as well as the percent of donations that were used directly for the nonprofit’s charitable purpose.

Charity
Donations
Charitable Purpose %
1. United Way
$3.87 billion
86%
2. Salvation Army
$2.08 billion
82%
3. Feeding America
$1.86 billion
98%
4. Task Force for Global Health
$1.57 billion
100%
5. American Natl. Red Cross
$1.08 billion
90%
6. Food for the Poor
$1.02 billion
96%
7. Goodwill Industries
$975 million
88%
8. YMCA of the USA
$939 million
85%
9. American Cancer Society
$871 million
73%
10. St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
$869 million
74%
11. World Vision
$795 million
83%
12. Boys & Girls Clubs of America
$766 million
80%
13. Catholic Charities USA
$715 million
85%
14. Compassion International
$657 million
84%
15. AmeriCares Foundation
$620 million
98%
16. Habitat for Humanity International
$606 million
84%
17. U.S. Fund for UNICEF
$587 million
91%
18. Catholic Medical Mission Board
$513 million
98%
19. Campus Crusade for Christ
$504 million
84%
20. American Heart Association
$502 million
78%
21. Nature Conservancy
$500 million
72%
22. Save the Children Federation
$455 million
91%
23. Direct Relief
$450 million
99%
24. Feed the Children
$442 million
89%
25. Samaritan’s Purse
$426 million
87%
26. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
$389 million
96%
27. Lutheran Services in America
$373 million
85%
28. Boy Scouts of America
$362 million
87%
29. MAP International
$346 million
99%
30. Step Up for Students
$332 million
99%
31. CARE USA
$320 million
89%
32. American Jewish Joint Distribution Comm.
$312 million
88%
33. Good 360
$310 million
99%
34. Mayo Clinic
$310 million
82%
35. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
$279 million
76%
36. Project HOPE
$273 million
96%
37. Dana Farber Cancer Institute
$261 million
82%
38. Planned Parenthood Fed. of America
$315 million
82%
39. Metropolitan Museum of Art
$259 million
87%
40. Cross International
$257 million
96%
41. Operation Blessing International Relief
$255 million
99%
42. Make-A-Wish Foundation
$253 million
75%
43. Population Services Intl.
$251 million
94%
44. Alzheimer’s Association
$243 million
77%
45. Catholic Relief Services
$244 million
93%
46. National Multiple Sclerosis Society
$243 million
77%
47. Brother’s Brother Foundation
$243 million
100%
48. Chronic Disease Fund
$238 million
92%
49. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
$236 million
81%
50. Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
$235 million
97%