In mid-December of 2016, Forbes released its list of the 100 charitable organizations with the most donations for 2016. The list is based on cash and in-kind donations received, and doesn’t account for things like fees for services or sales of merchandise, so it does give us some idea of how much people are donating in a given year, which is useful information.
The organizations on the list all brought in at least $140 million in donations, and altogether account for about $45 billion in 2016. Donations overall were up in 2016, even though some of the highest-ranking organizations actually saw some decrease in donations. In total, the roughly 1 million nonprofits in the country brought in about $350 billion over the course of the year. That works out to about $1,075 per American.
The top five organizations in Forbes’ list are:
- United Way Worldwide, which takes most of its contributions through employee-directed workplace paycheck deductions. The United Way consists of more than 1,000 local units, each of which determines its own charitable spending priorities based on needs in their geographic area. It brought in $3.71 billion in donations last year.
- Task Force For Global Health, which sends donated medicines abroad to countries in need, received $3.15 billion in gifts in 2016. Much of the organization’s donations came in the form of “gifts-in-kind” of medicine from drug companies.
- Feeding America, a Chicago-based umbrella for hundreds of food banks around the country, received $2.15 billion in gifts last year. Most of those gifts are in the form of donated food.
- Salvation Army, which is both a social service agency and a church with its own doctrine, reported donations of $1.90 billion in 2016.
- YMCA of the USA, with its network of youth facilities and health clubs, received $1.20 billion in donations in 2016, up 29 percent from the $930 million in donations it received in 2015.
If nothing else, these numbers can reassure people in the nonprofit sector that the money is out there. Americans are donating money left and right, so chances are, even for smaller organizations, there are people out there who want to donate to a cause, and might consider yours.
Although 2016 has been a difficult year in a number of ways, the spirit of giving is still alive and well, and even growing.