Revenue at Largest Charities Up Slightly in 2012, Expected to Be Flat in 2013

America's largest charities continued to battle fundraising headwinds in 2012, with only about half of them raising as much as they did in 2007, the last full year before the Great Recession, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

According to the Chronicle's annual Philanthropy 400 list, which ranks the largest U.S. charities by amount raised, fundraising revenue increased just 4 percent in 2012, or half the increase seen in 2011. Based on responses from eighty-eight groups that provided estimates, the Chronicle also projects that fundraising revenue at the largest U.S. charities will fall 1 percent in 2013.

United Way Worldwide topped this year's list, raising a total of $3.9 billion in 2012 — a year-over-year increase of less than 1 percent — even though its donations have dropped more than 16 percent since 2007. "Where we are is the case of so many nonprofits: We have not returned to pre-recession levels," Sherrie Brach, executive vice president for investor relations at the organization, told the Chronicle. "I think the whole sector is trying to regain lost ground, and we are one of those organizations."

While traditional charities that rely on donations from donors at all income levels continue to struggle, organizations with donor-advised funds and those that depend on large gifts from the wealthiest philanthropists had a strong year, the Chronicle reports. Ranked at number two for the second consecutive year is Fidelity Charitable, which collected $3.3 billion in 2012, up 89 percent over 2011. Of the twenty organizations that saw the largest percentage increase in revenue between 2007 and 2012, five were community foundations or for-profit entities that offer donor-advised funds.

After United Way and Fidelity Charitable, the Salvation Army ranked third on this year's list, followed by the Task Force for Global Health, Feeding America, Catholic Charities USA, Stanford University, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Goodwill Industries International, and Food for the Poor. Thanks in part to a capital campaign launched in 2009, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which didn't appear on last year's list, raised $181 million in 2012 — a year-over-year increase of more than 400 percent — putting it at no. 122 on this year's list.

"An Uneven Recovery for America's Biggest Charities." Chronicle of Philanthropy 10/20/2013.