Char­i­ties That Raised The Most Money Last Year


Last year was a good one for the world of char­ity in the United States. Top non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions raised more than $108 billion from pri­vate sources.

That’s ac­cord­ing to an an­nual re­port from The Chron­i­cle of Phi­lan­thropy, a Washington, D.C.-based mag­a­zine that cov­ers non­prof­its and in­di­vid­u­als and their char­i­ta­ble ac­tiv­i­ties. Dubbed the Phi­lan­thropy 400, the re­port tracks how much money non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions raised the pre­vi­ous year. The 400 or­ga­ni­za­tions high­lighted in the rank­ing this year ac­count for more than 25% of all money given to U.S.-based char­i­ties in 2016.

In the top spot on this year’s list we find Fidelity Char­i­ta­ble Gift Fund, a donor-ad­vised fund which sprang from Fidelity In­vest­ments, a fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pany based in Bos­ton. Last year the or­ga­ni­za­tion raised $4,076,302,537 in pri­vate sup­port. This is the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year Fidelity has topped the Phi­lan­thropy 400. From 2012 and 2015, it held tight to sec­ond place.

Cur­rent num­bers por­tend a great show­ing on next year’s list for Fidelity Char­i­ta­ble. The Chron­i­cle’s Heather Joslyn and Peter Olsen-Phillips write that as of the end­ing of its fis­cal year in June, the or­ga­ni­za­tion had re­ported nearly $6.9 billion in raised funds.

United Way World­wide—a so­cial ser­vices or­ga­ni­za­tion based in Alexan­dria, Vir­ginia—holds the sec­ond po­si­tion on the rank­ing, as it did last year. Ac­cord­ing to The Chron­i­cle, United Way raised $3,539,672,346 in 2016 from pri­vate sources. The phil­an­thropic pow­er­house has a his­tory of ex­cel­lence on the Phi­lan­thropy 400 rank­ing—it has topped the ros­ter 24 times since 1991.

Third place is held this year by a char­i­ta­ble en­tity set up by Gold­man Sachs, an in­vest­ment bank­ing and fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pany. Its Gold­man Sachs Phi­lan­thropy Fund is a donor-ad­vised fund which raised $3,190,157,926 in pri­vate sup­port in 2016. To date, this is the high­est the or­ga­ni­za­tion has ap­peared on the Phi­lan­thropy 400. Its best prior show­ing was in 2015 when it ranked 12th. One trend The Chron­i­cle notes is the popularity of donor-ad­vised funds (DAFs), which have seen a 106% in­crease in con­tri­bu­tions in the past five years. DAFs al­lows donors to have con- trol over the ways in which their money is used while also af­ford­ing them anonymity. They also do not carry the high over­head and ad­min­is­tra­tive costs of set­ting up a pri­vate foun­da­tion.

Joslyn and Olsen-Phillips re­port that the strength of the stock mar­ket is a fac­tor in the in­crease in DAF money, but so are changes in the be­hav­ior of well-heeled givers: “More wealthy peo­ple are shut­ter­ing fam­ily foun­da­tions and pour­ing the as­sets into donor-ad­vised funds. Or they are by­pass­ing the ex­pense and has­sle of foun­da­tions al­to­gether.”

The sums of money that dic­tate the Phi­lan­thropy 400 rank­ing are based, The Chron­i­cle says, on fil­ings with the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice and, in the case of col­lege fundrais­ing, the Coun­cil for Aid to Ed­u­ca­tion. Pri­vate foun­da­tions, non­prof­its con­trolled by gov­ern­ment agen­cies, or­ga­ni­za­tions based abroad, and any over­seas af­fil­i­ates of do­mes­tic groups were not in­cluded in the re­port.

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