Breaking Down Forbes' ‘50 Largest U.S. Charities’ List
Yesterday, Forbes released the 2015 edition of its annual "Largest U.S. Charities" report. The list—which Forbes has compiled each year since 1999—features the top 50 nonprofits by 2014 private donations (rather than government funding and other revenue sources) and includes statistics for total revenue, fundraising efficiency, charitable commitment and donor dependency. It's an interesting peek behind the curtain at some of the biggest nonprofits in the U.S., and while much of the information is available elsewhere online, the Forbes list puts it in one convenient, sortable place.
The full list is worth a look, but if you don't have time to poke around, worry not—we did it for you! Let's break this thing down:
• The top four charities from last year remained unchanged in 2015. United Way ($3.873 billion in private support) repeated at No. 1 and Salvation Army ($2.116 billion) was again No. 2., with Feeding America ($2.016 billion) and Task Force for Global Health ($1.609 billion) again finishing at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Rounding out the top five is St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital ($1.08 billion), jumping up from No. 10 last year. American National Red Cross, No. 5 in 2014, dropped to No. 16 this year.
• The top charity by total revenue (rather than private support) was Lutheran Services in America. The health and human services nonprofit totaled $21.017 billion in revenue, nearly $15 billion more than second-place finisher YMCA of the USA. Forbes noted that Lutheran Services in America received $723 million in gifts—good for No. 17 on the private support list—but collected $20 billion in fees.
• Five of the charities in the top 10 for private support also appear in the top 10 for total revenue: YMCA of the USA, Goodwill Industries International, United Way, Salvation Army and Feeding America. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center was the lowest ranked charity by private support (No. 31) to appear in the top 10 for total revenue, generating $3.652 billion in revenue against just $385 million in private support.
• Forbes used 10 different categories to classify nonprofits on the list. Here's each category by total number of organizations represented:
- International Needs (21)
- Domestic Needs (11)
- Youth (5)
- Health (4)
- Medical (4)
- Public Broadcasting (1)
- Environment/Animal (1)
- Cultural (1)
- Religious (1)
- Education (1)
• Brother's Brother Foundation, an international charity that focuses on medical and educational needs, finished at No. 50 in private support, but topped the list for fundraising efficiency with a score of 100 percent. Six other organizations also registered 100 percent scores for fundraising efficiency, while the lowest-ranked organization, American National Red Cross, finished at 75 percent.
• The 50 charities on the list combined for $33 billion in private support. That's $2 billion more than in 2014 and $3 billion more than in 2013.
• Four of Forbes' top 10 charities by private donations also appear in the top 10 on Charity Navigator's "Super-Sized Charities" list, which ranks nonprofits by total expenses. The organizations that appear on both lists are Feeding America (No. 2 in total expenses), St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital (No. 6), American Cancer Society (No. 8) and Food for the Poor (No. 9).