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Contents: National Averages | Largest Charities | Evaluating Charities | Personal Experience | Tips | Religious Stewardship | Educational

National Averages:

Sources (2006) $296 B:
Individuals 75%
Foundations 12%
Charitable bequests 8%
corporations and corporate foundations 4%
According to Giving USA Foundation ™
In 2006 Americans gave over $296 Billion in charitable contributions.
This includes $1.9 billion that Warren Buffett paid in 2006 as the first installment on his 20-year pledge of more than $30 billion to four foundations.
About 65 percent of households with incomes lower than $100,000 give to charity, said George C. Ruotolo Jr., CFRE, chair of Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non-Profits.
A 2003 Barna showed 80% of all households donated some money to at least one non-profit organization and 63% gave to a religious institution.

Since 1998, charitable giving has been 2 percent or more of gross domestic product (GDP) following more than two decades below that mark. For 2003, total contributions are estimated to be 2.2 percent of GDP.
Source: Planned Giving Design Center

Beneficiaries (2007) $306 B:
Charity Category Donation %
Religious congregations* 33%
Education 14%
Human services (e.g. Red Cross, YMCA) 10%
Foundations 9%
Health Organizations (e.g. American Cancer Soc.) 8%
Public Society Benefit 7%
Arts, culture and humanities organizations 4%
International Affairs 4%
Environment/animals 2%
Other 8%
Source: 2008Yearbook_PressRelease (word doc) from the Association of Direct Response Fundraising Counsel®

* Total charitable giving from individuals was about $225M in 2006 and from the religion section below $100M of individual donations or 44% goes to religious institutions.

According to several accounts, US citizens give more than double the amount of money (as measured by Gross Domestic Product)the people of the next most generous country give.

25 Largest in terms of giving (2007-8 data for Charaties and education, 2000-02 data for churches.)

Rnk Organization Giving
$M
1 Roman Catholic Church * $33,000
2 Southern Baptist Convention $7,970
3 LDS - Morman Church $5,300
4 United Methodist Church $4,760
5 United Way $4,236
6 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) $2,920
7 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America $2,300
8 Episcopal Church $2,230
9 Salvation Army $1,998
10 Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod $1,200
11 American Cancer Society $1,039
12 Food for the Poor $1,017
* Catholic Church Giving is a very rough estimate.
Rnk Organization Giving
$M
13 YMCA of the USA $1,004
14 Feed the Children $933
15 AmeriCares Foundation $873
16 Stanford U. $832
17 United Church of Christ $824
18 Catholic Charities USA $801
19 Gifts In Kind International $750
20 World Vision $728
21 Habitat for Humanity International $702
22 Boys & Girls Clubs of America $697
23 Feeding America $645
24 American National Red Cross $643
25 Harvard U. $614
20 largest Charities - In terms of Annual Private Support (2008):
Rank Name Private Support
$M annually
Net Assets ($mil) Score
4
1 United Way 4,236 NA 92 86 100 *a
2 Salvation Army 1,998 10,853 92 82 39 *b
3 American Cancer Society 1,039 1,587 81 71 89 2
4 Food for the Poor 1,017 24 98 97 100 4
5 YMCA of the USA 1,004 NA 89 81 42 *c  3
6 Feed the Children 933 554 92 84 57 3
7 AmeriCares Foundation 873 220 99 100 99 3
8 Catholic Charities USA 801 32 93 89 73 4
9 Gifts In Kind International 750 68 100 100 96 2
10 World Vision 728 151 88 86 102 3
11 Habitat for Humanity International 702 1,639 87 83 62 *d  4
12 Boys & Girls Clubs of America 697 2,764 90 80 79 2
13 Feeding America 645 44 98 97 97 4
14 American National Red Cross 643 3,224 78 89 94 2
15 St Jude Children's Research Hospital 584 1,910 84 69 31 4
16 American Heart Association 533 815 83 77 81 3
17 Goodwill Industries International 490 2,948 96 88 68
18 Nature Conservancy 486 4,715 87 80 4 4
19 Campus Crusade for Christ 470 108 93 87 97 *b
20 MAP International 393 169 99 99 81 4
Other well known and/or highly rated organizations
Rank Name Private Support
$M annually
Net Assets ($mil) Score
4
21 Boy Scouts of America 377 NA 87 87 50 *d  2
22 Mayo Clinic 367 4,309 91 97 -69 2
24 Compassion International 311 94 91 83 96 4
31 American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 242 380 99 93 88 4
34 Susan G Komen for the Cure (breast cancer) 234 128 93 83 84 4
36 PATH 226 685 100 86 39 4
40 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) 220 365 99 97 54 Av. 2.4
*e
49 Direct Relief International 199 58 100 99 137 4
55 World Wildlife Fund 181 317 90 81 47 4
83 Rotary Foundation of Rotary International 133 738 93 85 24 4
86 Children International 129 38 89 81 96 3
87 Conservation International Foundation 129 220 96 84 54 4
90 City of Hope 127 747 81 84 -3 4
105 Humane Society of the United States 107 207 88 84 93 4
106 Heifer Project International 104 116 84 76 77 3
136 National Public Radio (NPR) 75 428 96 82 15 Av. 2.5
*e
  National Christian Foundation 460   94     4
  American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 60   83     4
1 - Percent of private support remaining after fundraising expenses.
2 - Charitable services as percent of total expenses.
3 - Percent of private support remaining after surplus.

4 - CharityNavigator Score

*a. United Way is evaluated location by location - Some examples: Bergen Co. NJ -2; Somerset Co., NJ - 3; Capital Area Michigan - 2; Greater Twin Cities - 3; Denver - 3; Orange Co, CA - 3; Austin - 4, Berks Co., Reading, PA - 4; Baltimore - 2; Central Mass. Worcester - 1; Orlando - 3; Albuquerque, NM - 4; King Co, Seattle, WA - 4; Boston - 2; Atlanta - 3; San Antonio - 4; Philadelphia - 2; San Jose, CA - 1;

*b. CharityNavigator doesn't evaluate religious organizations because they are exempt under Internal Revenue Code from filing the Form 990. As a result, there is not sufficient data to evaluate their financial health.
See Religious Stewardship below.

*c. YMCA is evaluated nationally and location by location - Some examples: Orlando, FL - 2; Natl. Council, Chicago - 3; NY, NY - 3; Atlanta - 3; Los Angeles - 3, Houston -4

*d. Habitat for Humanity and the Boy Scouts are evaluated location by location and Nationally/Internationally.

*e. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) are evaluated location by location. Most are given a score of 2 or 3 because of high marketing and administrative costs.
E.g. WHYY Philadelphia = 2 (Fundraising and Admin.= 38%); WGBH Boston = 3 (Fundraising and Admin = 26%); Minnesota Public Radio = 4

Note: Some organizations like the Sierra Club are not included because a substantial portion of their revenue on is spent on lobbying, which makes them a 501(c)(4) . The Sierra Club Foundation which is the educational arm is a 501(c)(3) org.

Sources:
The 200 Largest U.S. Charities - Forbes.com
CharityNavigator.org
The 50 largest US charities ranked by total income at csmonitor.com


Evaluating Charitable Organizations:
You should consider how much of the money you donate goes to the causes they represent and how much is spend in fundrasing and administrative expenses.

Outside fundraisers can keep up to 90% of donations for their expenses.

Info at www.give.org - BBB Wise Giving Alliance - Gives Administrative and Fund Raising Expenses
Charity Navigator rates charities from 1 (poor) to 4 (exceptional) stars.
Ratings include Efficiency (Administrative and Fundraising expenses vs program expenses) and Capacity (sustained/grown programs and services over time, financial health)
- Information on their web site:
7 out of 10 charities evaluated spend at least 75% of their budget on the programs and services they exist to provide. What To Do When A Charity Calls

Charitable Donations: Give or Take? at FTC.gov
Charity Governance: Don't Be Misled By Administrative And Fundraising Ratios--These Are Largely Irrelevant Numbers

The American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) also rates non-profits.

Personal Experience:
In 2009 I participated in the Tubbs Romp to Stomp out Breast Cancer Snowshoe Series
220 participants in a snowshoe 3-5K walk/run raised $8,100 for an average of $37 per person. I sent out email requests for donations to 24 people and got 6 responses (25%). These were fairly close friends.
I probably could have increased that with phone follow-up, but don't like twisting arms.
The most common donation was $25 with one $50 and one $100.
This was better than the 7% response I got for an American Cancer mailing to neighbors.

I sent out requests for donations to 75 people I knew in our church to support our team in a 5K run and 1 mile walk for the VA hospital.
I got 15 donations (20%) [ 8-$25, 5-$50, $200 and $250]
I got 7 out of 30 23% (most $20) for a 10K benefit.

In a phone-a-thon for my son's prep school I got over a 75% response when calling previous donors.

Sierra Club NJ Chapter fundrasing:
General mailing: 1.5-1.7% resonse average donation $50
Previous (within 3-4 yrs.) donor mailings: 15-21% response - average donation $76
Note: Sierra Club giving in strong red states is much lower. I don't think they even bother sending out general mailings.

I've sent out letters to 14 neighbors for the American Heart Association and typically get 1 response with $25 about 3-4 weeks after the mailing. They set a goal of $60, I guess figuring I'll make up the difference; Nice trick.

The Presbyterian church I belong to gives over 20% of it's budget ($475,000 out of $2 Million annually) for mission projects, 80% of that to third world countries for direct aid, schools, feeding programs, healthcare, ....

Make-A-Wish: Make-A-Wish raised $14 million last year from direct mail, but Make-A-Wish direct response manager Zachary Stahmer says Google is more effective. Direct mail gets a 2% to 3% response rate, he says, compared with 6% online.

Tips:

  • Be direct in your subject line on e-mail.
    The indirect subject line had a 21% open rate, but only a 4% response rate.
    The direct subject line had an 18% open rate and an 18% response rate.
  • Keep it short and simple
Response Rates:
Type of Donor Response Rate Estimate
No previous association < than 2%, most expect 1% or lower for good result
An association but no prior donation 0.1 - 7%, mostly 2-4%
Donor but not in past 18 months 2 - 20%.
Current regular donor 5 - 90%
Links:
10 Best Practices to Increase Email Response Rates for Fundraising

Religious Stewarship:
Close to two out of every three households (63%) donated some money to a church, synagogue or other place of religious worship during 2003. That percentage has remained constant since 2001, but is somewhat lower than the number of church donors identified in 2000 and in 1999 (66%).
From the above we see that total charitable giving from individuals was about $225M in 2006 and $100M or 44% goes to religious institutions.
When contributions are examined as a percentage of household income, giving to religious centers represents about 2.2% of gross income. 4% of the national population of households tithe (give 10%).
7-14% of born again Christians and 14% of evangelicals tithe.
Pollster George Barna writes, "Generally, the more money a person makes the less likely he is to tithe."
Source: barna.org

Other 501(c)(3) (tax exempt non-profits) organizations are required to file a form 990 with the IRS; Churches are not required to do this; as a consequence the data below are estimates.

2000-2002 Giving
Church US Members
(1,000)
Total $M per capita
American Baptist Churches U.S.A. 593 $422 $712
National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. 7,500 ?
Southern Baptist Convention 15,222 $7,970 $524
Assemblies of God 1,585 $338 $213
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 527 $483 $915
Episcopal Church 1,806 $2,230 $1,234
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 3,811 2,300 $603
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod 1,908 $1,200 $631
LDS (Morman) ‡ 5,000 $4,900 $980
Presbyterian Church in America 247 $484 $1,957
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 2,525 $2,920 $1,155
Reformed Church in America 177 $264 $1,488
Roman Catholic Church 64,000 $33,000 $524
United Church of Christ 1,377 $824 $598
United Methodist Church 8,340 $4,760 $571
Average $660‡
† Average per NCC's 2004 Yearbook Giving includes congregational finances plus benevolence (10-15%) giving.
Source: Giving among Church Denominations at GenerousGiving.org
Their disclaimer: "This is a non-scientific table, not intended for republication or distribution to general audiences. It is designed only as a study aid for teachers and researchers for research purposes only. It is not authoritative and, therefore, its contents must not be cited in any published work."

Giving for Catholic, Morman (LDS) and some others comes from a variety of sources. ‡ Note: The Morman Church (Latter-day Saints - LDS) does not publish financial data, and these numbers come from other estimates.
A Time magazine article estimated US member giving was $4.9 B in 1997. With 5 million US members that works out to $980 per member. This seems low considering the high rate of tithing.

Giving per member is also a function of family size and the age at which children become members. We would expect Catholics and Morman numbers to be lower because of large family size.

According to adherents.com/:
Conservative Protestants give more than 3 percent of household income.
Mainline Protestants, 2 percent. About 30 - 45 percent of Latter-day Saints (Mormans), tithe.
Per-capita giving in the Assemblies of God exceeds 5 percent.
Seventh-day Adventists give more than 4 percent of their income.
Jewish per-family giving rivals that of Latter-day Saints, but give more to secular Jewish federations than to synagogues.

See Also: News from the National Council of Churches
Cultivating an Individual Donor Base

Well-to-due Church Giving Example (1999)
1,000 members; Around 290, half of the 580 giving units (roughly households), pledge.

Yearly church finance and benevolence giving
Num1 Cum %2 Pledge Cumul.
19 3% > $10,000 $285K
27 8% $5,000-10,000K $488K
47 16% $2,600-$5,000K $666K
31 21% $2,080-$2,600K $739K
29 26% $1,560-$2,080K $791K
54 36% $1,040-$1,560K $860K
39 42% $520-$1,040K $890K
44 50% $1 - $520K $900K
290 100% $0 $900K
1. Number of giving units out of a total of
580 from 1,000 members.
2. Cumulative % is of all giving units.
Only 1/2 of giving units pledged.
Average: $3,000/ pledge per giving unit
In 1997 giving was $1,080/member.
In 2002 giving was $1,360/member.
In 2008 the same church gave $1.8M or $1,518/member.

Note: Actual collections are typically 33-40% higher than pledges because of people who don't Pledge and plate receipts from guests.
This is in an upper class area of the county with the highest median income (>$83K) in the country, so only a fraction tithe (give 10%).

Studies also indicate that roughly 75 percent of money is given by 25 percent of the people across all denominations.

Capital campaign for a $4 M building program
3 year giving total pledges.
Number Cum Amount Cumul.
1 0% $400K $400K
2 1% $250K $900K
4 2% $150K $1.5M
5 4% $100K $2.0M
12 7% $50K $2.6M
15 12% $30K $3.0M
19 18% $12K $3.3M
25 25% $10K $3.5M
39 37% $6K $3.8M
50 53% $3K $3.9M
55 69% $1.5K $4.0M
100 100% <$780 $4.0M

Educational Giving

Sources of Private Giving to Higher Education, 2006 and 2007
Category 2006 Share of 2006 Total 2007 Share of 2007 Total
Alumni $8,400,000,000 30.0% $8,270,000,000 27.8%
Non-alumni individuals $5,700,000,000 20.4% $5,650,000,000 19.0%
Corporations $4,600,000,000 16.4% $4,800,000,000 16.1%
Foundations $7,100,000,000 25.4% $8,500,000,000 28.6%
Religious organizations $375,000,000 1.3% $380,000,000 1.3%
Other organizations $1,825,000,000 6.5% $2,150,000,000 7.2%
Total $28,000,000,000 100% $29,750,000,000 100%

Top 20 Colleges and Universities in Fund Raising, 2007
Institution Rank in 2007 Rank in 2006 Total Raised
in 2007
$M
1-Year % Change
Stanford U. 1 1 $832 -8.7%
Harvard U. 2 2 $614 3.2%
U. of Southern California 3 6 $470 15.7%
Johns Hopkins U. 4 7 $430 14.1%
Columbia U. 5 8 $424 12.3%
Cornell U. 6 5 $407 0.2%
U. of Pennsylvania 7 4 $392 -4.2%
Yale U. 8 3 $391 -9.7%
Duke U. 9 9 $372 12.1%
UCLA 10 11 $365 14.1%
MIT 11 21 $329 39.7%
U. of Chicago 12 19 $328 38.5%
U. of Wisconsin at Madison 13 10 $325 -0.2%
U. of Washington 14 12 $300 -5.1%
U. of Michigan 15 16 $293 16.7%
U. of Minnesota 16 14 $289 8.1%
New York U. 17 13 $288 2.7%
U. of Virginia 18 22 $283 30.6%
Indiana U. 19 17 $279 12.5%
U. of California at San Francisco 20 26 $252 25.2%
UNC 21
UC Berkeley 22
Princeton 23
Texas 24
Ohio State 25
Purdue 26
Notre Dame 27
Northwestern 28
Illinois 29
Cal Tech 30
Source: Inside Higher ED and UNC Development Update 09-24-08.pdf


Rescue Squads:
Some states/communities have volunteer Rescue Squads which provide free ambulance service to hospitals funded by donations.
A local one here got a 37% household response rate with an average donation of $54.

Links:
Donation Letter help at FundraiserHelp.com
Non-profits
Exploring physical activity events as fundraising tools in the nonprofit sector International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, Volume 8, Number 4, November 2003
Fundraising Market Study at Simon Fraser Univ. in Canada
http://www.smartgivers.org
The 200 Largest U.S. Charities - Forbes.com The NonProfit Times - The Leading Business Publication For Nonprofit Management
The Chronicle of Philanthropy: The Philanthropy 400


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last updated 10 Oct 2013