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The Most Charitable City In America Is...

According to the Nation's Leading Charity Evaluator, Houston Charities Top Annual List


GLEN ROCK, N.J., September 6, 2016 – For the second year in a row, Houston’s nonprofit sector is the tops in performance in the nation, according to a 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 Phoenix’s charities are growing the fastest, Atlanta’s charities are the most efficient at fundraising, Houston's charities received proportionately the most donations, Pittsburgh’s charities have the greatest surpluses, and the median CEO pay among charities in D.C. is $75,000 higher than what is paid to charity CEOs in Orlando.

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 62% of the 7,983 charities evaluated by Charity Navigator and they generate 76% of the total revenue and 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) Houston 1) Houston
2) St.Louis 2) San Diego
3) Tampa/ St. Petersburg 3) Boston
4) Dallas 4) Los Angeles
5) San Diego 5) Miami
  Current Ranking Previous Ranking
1) Houston Houston
2) St.Louis San Diego
3) Tampa/ St. Petersburg Boston
4) Dallas Los Angeles
5) San Diego Miami

Lowest Rated

Current Ranking
Previous Ranking
30) Cincinnati 30) Colorado Springs
29) Indianapolis 29) Portland
28) Seattle 28) Orlando
27) Pittsburgh 27) Tampa/St. Petersburg
26) Colorado Sorings 26) Philadelphia
  Current Ranking Previous Ranking
30) Cincinnati Colorado Springs
29) Indianapolis Portland
28) Seattle Orlando
27) Pittsburgh Tampa/St. Petersburg
26) Colorado Sorings Philadelphia


“The consistently, exceptional performance of Houston charities confirms what people in Houston already know,” said Michael Thatcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. “Simply put, there’s a tremendous amount of philanthropic energy in that community right now.  The city’s number one ranking in our study is directly related to financial strength and ethical behavior exhibited by Houston charities, a result of the hard work of both informed donors and responsible nonprofit leaders

Additional findings from the report include:

  • Market Size: New York City (934 large charities) and D.C. (686) are more crowded and competitive philanthropic markets than Colorado Springs (44) and Indianapolis (51).
  • CEO Compensation: Charity executives in D.C. ($181,945) and NYC ($175,803) earn considerably more than those in Orlando ($106,948) and Cincinnati ($113,156).
  • Program Expenses: Orlando’s charities (85%) devote the largest percentage of their spending to their programs and services while NYC charities spend the least (79.8%).
  • Annual Growth: Charities in Phoenix are rapidly expanding their programs (8%), while charities in Atlanta are expanding the slowest (1.9%).
  • Level of Contributions: Donors to charities in Houston ($4.3 million), Los Angeles ($4.1 million) and Dallas ($3.8 million) are especially generous as these charities report the highest median contributions in the study. Charities in Nashville ($2.4 million), Philadelphia ($2.4 million) and Denver ($2.7 million) report the lowest median contributions.
  • Financially Secure: The largest charities in St. Louis are generally richer in working capital and have lower liability to asset ratios than charities in other parts of the country, while charities in Colorado Springs are less financially secure.
  • Accountability & Transparency: Charities in Houston, Baltimore, Phoenix, San Diego, Kansas City and Tampa/St. Petersburg earn the highest scores for their commitment to being accountable and transparent while charities in Nashville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Cleveland score the lowest.
  • Financial Health: The largest charities in Cleveland and Tampa/St. Petersburg earn higher scores for their overall financial health than those in Colorado Springs and Seattle.
  • Donor Privacy Policy: Tampa/St. Petersburg (51%) 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); Cincinnati (21%) has the lowest percentage of charities with such policies.
  • Types of Charities: Tampa/St. Petersburg has more Animal (11%) and Health (19%) charities, Milwaukee has more Arts, Culture and Humanities (23%) charities, Cleveland has more Community Development (19%) charities, NYC has more Education (12%) charities, San Francisco has more Environment (11%) charities, D.C. has more Human & Civil Rights (16%) and Research & Public Policy (11%) charities, St. Louis has more Human Services (44%) charities, Colorado Springs has more International (21%) and Religion (34%) charities than the other cities in the study.

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 8,000 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.

Media Contact:
Sandra Miniutti
201.818.1288 x105

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