Forbes Names the Top 50 Charities in the United States

What are the largest charities in the United States? In one of its famous lists, Forbes magazine has listed the 50 largest U.S. charities based on private donations for 2013, the last year that complete figures are available. Donations can be cash, securities or goods.

Not surprisingly, once again United Way led the list with $3.87 billion in donations, though the huge charity saw a slight drop (1.5 percent) from the previous year’s $3.93 billion. Next were the Salvation Army, which had a 10 percent increase, and Feeding America, which saw a 23 percent increase from the year before, moving it up from No. 4 to No. 3 on the list.

Overall, the 50 charities saw a 3 percent increase in donations, which totaled $31 billion overall. Not included in the ranking are government grants, investment returns and fees for services.

The magazine also measured the effectiveness rate or “charitable commitment,” the percentage of donations that were used for the charitable purpose of the organization, as opposed to management, certain overhead expenses and fundraising. The average for all of the top 50 charities was 88 percent. Charities that receive in-kind gifts – goods and services – tend to have higher percentages.

Forbes also looked at fundraising efficiency and found that it averaged 92 percent. Essentially, this means it cost the top 50 charities an average of 8 cents to earn $1 in donations. This percentage can vary widely depending on the type of charity and the fundraising methods necessary.

The following is Forbes’ list of the top 50 charities, based on donations, as well as the percent of donations that were used directly for the nonprofit’s charitable purpose. For more information, go to

Charity Donations % to Programs
1. United Way $3.87 billion 86%
2. Salvation Army $2.08 billion 82%
3. Feeding America $1.86 billion 98%
4. Task Force for Global Health $1.58 billion 100%
5. American National Red Cross $1.08 billion 90%
6. Food for the Poor $1.02 billion 96%
7. Goodwill Industries International $975 million 88%
8. YMCA of the USA $939 million 85%
9. American Cancer Society $871 million 73%
10. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital $869 million 74%
11. World Vision $795 million 83%
12. Boys & Girls Clubs of America $766 million 80%
13. Catholic Charities USA $715 million 85%
14. Compassion International $657 million 84%
15. AmeriCares Foundation $620 million 98%
16. Habitat for Humanity International $606 million 84%
17. U.S. Fund for UNICEF $587 million 91%
18. Catholic Medical Mission Board $513 million 98%
19. Campus Crusade for Christ $504 million 84%
20. American Heart Association $502 million 78%
21. Nature Conservancy $500 million 72%
22. Save the Children Federation $455 million 91%
23. Direct Relief $450 million 99%
24. Feed the Children $442 million 89%
25. Samaritan’s Purse $426 million 87%
26. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center $389 million 96%
27. Lutheran Services in America $373 million 85%
28. Boy Scouts of America $362 million 87%
29. MAP International $346 million 99%
30. Step Up for Students $332 million 99%
31. CARE USA $320 million 89%
32. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee $312 million 88%
33. Good 360 $310 million 99%
34. Mayo Clinic $310 million 82%
35. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society $279 million 76%
36. Project HOPE $273 million 96%
37. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute $261 million 82%
38. Planned Parenthood Federation of America $315 million 82%
39. Metropolitan Museum of Art $259 million 87%
40. Cross International $257 million 96%
41. Operation Blessing International Relief $255 million 99%
42. Make-A-Wish Foundation of America $253 million 75%
43. Population Services International $251 million 94%
44. Alzheimer’s Association $243 million 77%
45. Catholic Relief Services $244 million 93%
46. National Multiple Sclerosis Society $243 million 77%
47. Brother’s Brother Foundation $243 million 100%
48. Chronic Disease Fund $238 million 92%
49. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art $236 million 81%
50. Marine Toys for Tots Foundation $235 million 97%

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