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From Sea to Shining Sea, America is Charitable!

Charity Navigator's Annual Study Examines How the Performance of Charities is Influenced by the City They Call Home


GLEN ROCK, N.J., June 1, 2014 – St. Louis' nonprofit sector is the tops in performance in the nation, according to a new study by Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator. It is the only comprehensive report on the performance – both Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency – of the 30 largest philanthropic marketplaces in America. The study shows that Portland's charities have a greater commitment to ethical best practices, Miami's charities are the most efficient at fundraising, Boston's charities received proportionately the most donations, Indianapolis' charities have the greatest surpluses, and the median CEO pay among charities in NYC is $80,000 higher than what is paid to charity CEOs in Orlando.

In its study, Charity Navigator compared the percentage of compliance for various accountability & transparency metrics as well as the median values of various financial performance and size metrics 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 51% of the more than 7,000 charities evaluated by Charity Navigator and they generate 65% 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, manage costs as well as their adherence to good governance policies and procedures. 

In terms of their overall Financial Health and commitment to Accountability & Transparency, the study’s highest and lowest rated charitable communities are:

Highest Rated

Current Ranking
Previous Ranking
1) St. Louis 1) San Diego
2) Houston 2) Houston
3) Cleveland 3) Kansas City
4) Minneapolis/St. Paul 4) Cincinnati
5) Pittsburgh 5) San Francisco

Lowest Rated

Current Ranking
Previous Ranking
30) Phoenix 30) Indianapolis
29) Atlanta 29) Orlando
28) Colorado Springs 28) Nashville
27) Portland 27) Atlanta
26) Tampa/St. Petersburg 26) Miami


"America is home to the largest nonprofit sector in the history of the world," said Ken Berger, President & CEO of Charity Navigator, "and its overall strength continues to amaze us. But as this study shows, different cities across America present unique challenges and opportunities to the charities that call it home. We produce this annual report to help nonprofit leaders and donors better understand the regional differences that impact the ability of charities to efficiently fulfill their missions year after year."

Additional findings from the report include:

  • Market Size: New York City (697 large charities), D.C. (568) and L.A. (246) are more crowded and competitive philanthropic markets than Cincinnati (41), Milwaukee (41) and Orlando (41).
  • CEO Compensation: Charity executives in New York City ($186,775) and D.C. ($181,715) earn considerably more than those in Orlando ($106,306) and Nashville ($108,497).
  • Program Expenses: Detroit’s charities (85.5%) devote the largest percentage of their spending to their programs and services while Indianapolis charities spend the least (79.4%).
  • Annual Growth: Charities in San Francisco are among the fastest growing, while charities in Orlando and Atlanta are among the slowest.
  • Level of Contributions: Donors to charities in Boston ($4.6 million), Houston ($4.4 million) and New York City ($4.3 million) are especially generous as these charities report the highest median contributions in the study. Charities in Orlando ($2.3 million), Tampa/St. Petersburg ($2.5 million) and Portland ($2.7 million) report the lowest median contributions.
  • Assets and Working Capital: The largest charities in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are generally richer in assets and working capital than charities in other parts of the country, while charities in Baltimore and Orlando are less financially secure.
  • Accountability & Transparency: Charities in Portland and Houston earn the highest scores for their commitment to being accountable and transparent while charities in Nashville and Orlando score the lowest.
  • Financial Health: The largest charities in Pittsburgh and Houston earn higher scores for their overall financial health than those in Baltimore and Orlando.
  • Donor Privacy Policy: Cincinnati (76%) has the highest percentage of charities with written donor privacy policies (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); Nashville (36%) has the lowest percentage of charities with such policies. 
  • Types of Charities: Approximately 40% of the largest charities in Detroit, Orlando, Miami, Tampa/St. Petersburg and St. Louis are classified as Human Services making these philanthropic marketplaces less diverse in terms of the types of charities represented.

About Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org)

Charity Navigator is the largest expert 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 and Accountability & Transparency of more than 7,500 charities. Charity Navigator accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, ensuring unbiased evaluations, nor does it charge the public for this trusted data. As a result, Charity Navigator, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization itself, depends on support from individuals, corporations and foundations that believe it provides a much-needed service to America's charitable givers. Charity Navigator, can be reached directly by telephone at (201) 818-1288, or by mail at 139 Harristown Road, Suite 101, Glen Rock, N.J., 07452.

Visit our site, www.charitynavigator.org/metro, for a complete list of results by city.

Charity Navigator
Sandra Miniutti
201.818.1288 x105

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