Originally published November 4, 2015

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently released its 25th edition of the “Philanthropy 400,” ranking the top 400 charities that secured the most philanthropic support in 2014. For the second year, the list has seen higher rankings for donor advised funds and, for the first time, there are four donor-advised funds in the Top Ten. The increasing popularity of donor-advised funds is clearly reflected in this year’s “Philanthropy 400.”

Top Ten Charitable Organizations in 2014:

  1. United Way Worldwide
  2. Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
  3. Salvation Army
  4. Feeding America
  5. Silicon Valley Community Foundation
  6. Schwab Charitable Fund
  7. Task Force for Global Health
  8. Harvard University
  9. National Christian Foundation
  10. Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program



United Way Worldwide claims the No. 1 spot in the Philanthropy 400, but only $23.5 million separates it from No. 2 Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. United Way Worldwide and its affiliates raised $3.87 billion in the 2015 fiscal year, a growth rate of only 1.5 percent. Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund gained 3.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, raising $3.85 billion.

Private support among all of the Philanthropy 400 grew by 5.1 percent from 2013 to 2014. The entire sector of charitable giving rose 5.4 percent last year to a record $358.4 billion, according Giving USA.

Other findings include:

  • The minimum threshold for charities to make the list was $64.3 million. Last year the cutoff was $62.2 million.
  • Among all causes represented, community foundations lead the pack with a 24.8 percent rise in private support, followed by public broadcasting (up 19.7 percent) and private colleges and universities (up 13.5 percent).
  • Education groups saw the biggest drop in private support last year, a loss of 19.3 percent. The only other causes that saw a decline in private support were social services (down 7.6 percent) and arts and culture (down 5.8 percent).
  • Public colleges and universities have claimed the largest number of spots on the “Philanthropy 400” over the past 25 years, with 1,652 making the rankings (including repeat appearances), followed closely by private colleges and universities (1,444 spots) and international groups (1,256).

It is important to note that many of the biggest gains in the current list were from capital campaigns and, in some cases, a single major gift. At least 68 organizations ran capital campaigns last year; 31 were colleges or universities, and two were social-service charities.

Looking Ahead
While many sectors saw increases in private giving in 2014, others experienced decreases. Perhaps your organization, like one of the many on the Philanthropy 400 list, experienced a smaller percent increase or decrease in giving last year. To ensure increased charitable giving for next year, ask your organization:

  • Are we soliciting the correct individuals and constituencies? If not, how can we recalibrate our focus and strategies?
  • How can we improve the ease and accessibility of giving vehicles to motivate donors, especially those who give through donor-advised funds?
  • Do our donor communications demonstrate impact in creative and measurable ways?
For help answering these questions or strengthening your fundraising program, contact Bentz Whaley Flessner at (952) 921-0111 or visit www.bwf.com. Together we transform philanthropy.
Copyright © 2015 Bentz Whaley Flessner & Associates, Inc.
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