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The Most Charity-Conscious Cities in America

Despite Recessionary Pressures, Charitable Marketplaces Flourish in Cities like Pittsburgh and Houston


GLEN ROCK, N.J., June 1, 2010 – Even in the recession, millions of Americans will donate more than $300 billion to charities this year.  But do those donors know in which cities the country's biggest non-profits are spending less to court their support and have sufficient rainy-day funds to weather these turbulent economic times?  Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator, recently concluded its seventh study of the largest charities in the nation’s top 30 metropolitan markets, revealing that charities in markets such as Pittsburgh, Houston and Dallas show greater overall financial health than those found in Baltimore, Detroit and Indianapolis.

In its study, Charity Navigator compared the median performance and size of the largest nonprofits in the 30 largest metropolitan markets (Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Nashville, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Washington, DC).  Those markets account for 55% of the 5,500 charities evaluated by Charity Navigator and they generate 64% of the total revenue and 66% total spending.  The study revealed that regional factors, such as the cost of living, a market’s maturity and a city’s tendency to support one or two specialized causes, greatly influence the ability of the charities in each city to raise money and manage costs.

In terms of their overall financial health, the study’s highest and lowest rated charitable communities are:

Highest Rated

Current Ranking Previous Ranking
1) Pittsburgh 1) Miami
2) Houston 2) San Diego
3) Dallas 3) Houston
4) San Francisco 4) Pittsburgh
5) Kansas City 5) Boston

Lowest Rated

Current Ranking Previous Ranking
30) Baltimore 30) Detroit
29) Detroit 29) Indianapolis
28) Indianapolis 28) Baltimore
27) Milwaukee 27) Charlotte
26) Nashville 26) Portland

“In these difficult economic times, we know many Americas have to make tough choices regarding their ability to make charitable donations,” said Ken Berger, President & CEO of Charity Navigator.  “Likewise, the professionals leading our nation’s charities must decide how to best utilize donations to achieve maximum social impact while retaining enough funds to sustain operations beyond the recession.  This study offers information that can help both donors and nonprofit leaders understand the financial strengths and weakness of each philanthropic marketplace and thus assist them in navigating through this challenging time.”

Additional findings from the report include:

  • Market Size: New York City (590 large charities), D.C. (500) and L.A. (198) are more crowded and competitive philanthropic markets than, Cincinnati (31), Nashville (31) and Orlando (34).
  • CEO Compensation: Charity executives in New York City ($190,472) and San Diego ($165,000) earn considerably more than those in Orlando ($107,569) and Portland ($110,601).
  • Fundraising Efficiency: Spending a median of just 6.5 cents to raise a dollar in contributions, Orlando’s charities are the most efficient in their fundraising endeavors. Seattle’s charities are the least as they spend nearly double that amount to raise a dollar.
  • Annual Growth: Charities in San Francisco are among the fastest growing, while charities in Baltimore are among the slowest.
  • Wealth: Cleveland’s and Cincinnati’s largest charities are generally richer in assets and working capital than charities in other parts of the country, while charities in Colorado Springs are less financially secure.
  • Donor Privacy Policy: Cincinnati (68%) and Milwaukee (65%) have higher percentages of charities with written donor privacy plans (stating that the charity will not sell, trade or share its donors’ personal information with anyone else, nor send mailings on behalf of other organizations); Pittsburgh (30%) and Philadelphia (40%) have the lowest percentage of charities with such policies. 
  • Types of Charities: Miami, with 40% of its largest charities classified as Human Services, and Colorado Springs, with 39% of its largest charities classified as Religious, appear to be less diverse in terms of the types of charities represented. Portland and Los Angeles are more diverse marketplaces as they contain at least 3%, but no more than 19%, of each type of charity.

Charity Navigator's ratings are accessible at no charge at http://www.charitynavigator.org/, and catalog the financial health of over 5,500 of America's best-known charities.  Charity Navigator analysts examine two broad areas of a charity’s financial health --- how responsibly it functions day to day as well as how well positioned it is to sustain its programs over time --- and assign an overall rating, ranging from zero to four stars.  To help donors avoid becoming victims of mailing-list appeals, each charity's commitment to keeping donors' personal information confidential is assessed.  Starting in July, Charity Navigator will begin to augment its financial ratings data with information about a charity’s accountability and transparency practices.    

About Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/)
Charity Navigator is the largest charity evaluator in America and its website attracts more visitors than all other charity rating groups combined. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 charities. Charity Navigator is a 501 (c)(3) organization which accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, ensuring unbiased evaluations. Charity Navigator, can be reached directly by telephone at (201) 818-1288, or by mail at 139 Harristown Road, Suite 201, Glen Rock, N.J., 07452

To access the complete study visit: www.charitynavigator.org/metro

Contact: Sandra Miniutti, Vice President, Marketing
(201) 884-1051, media@charitynavigator.org

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