Consumers Digest/ Names America's Top Charities

Nov 08, 2012, 08:00 ET from Consumers Digest

DEERFIELD, Ill., Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Two hundred and twenty-one charities out of some 2,400 were ranked by Consumers Digest as "America's Top Charities." The rankings, which are published in CD's December issue (on sale Nov. 1) and are available at, span seven categories: development/distribution, educational/cultural, environment/wildlife, health, humanitarian, human services and religiously affiliated.

The rankings are based on charities' spending efficiency—that is, the percentage of generated income that's spent on their mission and not on other costs, such as fundraising, marketing and administration. A charity had to distribute at least 65 percent of its total funds to its program(s) to make Consumers Digest's list.

Among each of the seven categories of charitable organizations, the top three charities are:

  • Development/Distribution: Brother's Brother Foundation (99.63 percent efficiency), International Aid (99.48 percent) and Good360 (Gifts In Kind) (99.07 percent).
  • Educational/Cultural: Scholarship America (97.08 percent), Public Broadcasting Service (95.02 percent) and National Public Radio (94.19 percent).
  • Environment/Wildlife: Conservation Fund (97.42 percent), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (94.94 percent) and Animal Welfare Institute (94.45 percent).
  • Health: Help the Children (99.63 percent), Christian Blind Mission International (98.87 percent) and American Kidney Fund (97.45 percent).
  • Humanitarian: Kids in Distressed Situations (99.50 percent), Heart to Heart International (99.00 percent) and Operation Blessing (International Relief & Development) (98.83 percent).
  • Human Services: Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (98.45 percent), Fisher House Foundation (98.00 percent) and Marine Toys for Tots Foundation (97.21 percent).
  • Religiously Affiliated: Christian Aid Ministries (98.58 percent), Jewish National Fund (98.49 percent) and Map International (98.24 percent).

The list of top charities per category numbers: development/distribution–32; educational/cultural–17; environment/wildlife–24; health–49; humanitarian–32; human services–39; and religiously affiliated–28.

A review of Consumers Digest's results indicates that the category of charities that generally is most efficient is development/distribution. A comparison of the average spending efficiency of the top 15 charities in each category found that development/distribution charities seemingly operate on lower marketing and administration budgets than do charities in the other six categories, to produce better spending efficiency. The top charities in the development/distribution category funnel an average of 96.41 percent of their total expenditures to their cause. The top charities in the humanitarian and health categories averaged 94.89 percent and 94.10 percent, respectively. Charities at the top of the religiously affiliated and human services categories followed with an average of 93.00 percent and 92.21 percent, respectively. The top charities in the environment/wildlife category managed an average spending efficiency of only 88.88 percent. The top charities in the educational/cultural category fared the worst in Consumers Digest's investigation, averaging 86.22 percent.

Consumers Digest also calculated a charity's cost to raise $100. Twenty-five of the 221 organizations on Consumers Digest's "America's Top Charities" list spent less than $1 to raise $100. Twenty-two charities on the list spent more than $20. Not one development/distribution, educational/cultural or humanitarian charity on the list spent more than $20. Twenty percent of the 49 health charities on the list spent more than $20. Eighteen percent of the human services charities spent more than $20 to raise $100.

The "America's Top Charities" list was published in conjunction with the special report "Using Your Head and Your Heart." CD's editors scrutinized how fallout from the tough economy and thousands of charities' lost tax-exempt status might affect individuals' donation decisions.

Consumers Digest is designed to inform and educate readers so they can buy with confidence, no matter the product or service. The publication is committed to providing practical advice, factual evaluations and specific recommendations that lead consumers to exceptional values in today's complex marketplace. Consumers Digest recently launched a completely rebuilt in conjunction with the celebration of its 50th anniversary of serving consumers.

SOURCE Consumers Digest