United Way is proud to be named Forbes largest U.S. charity for 2012 and one of five on their list of “all-star charities.” See excerpts from Forbes articles below:
Once again, United Way tops the annual Forbes list of the largest U.S. charities.
For its latest fiscal year, ending December 31, 2011, the Alexandria, Va.-based network of more than 1,000 separate units dependent on paycheck deductions received $3.9 billion in private donations, the metric for the list. In a tough economic environment that represented a 1% increase—$44 million—over 2010. United Way is also one of five on a Forbes list of “all-star charities.” The Forbes list also calculates financial efficiencies for each charity and changes in those ratios from the prior period.
Who deserves your charitable dollars? To help you decide, we’ve calculated the financial efficiency of the 100 U.S. charities that received the most private donations last year. We’ve also picked five all-stars—charities that are reasonably efficient (compared to their peers) and do fine work in their areas. In our tables, fundraising efficiency shows the percentage of gifts left after the expense of soliciting them. Charitable commitment subtracts other overhead, too. Donor dependency? That’s the share of donations needed to break even; charities with a ratio above 100 had to dig into reserves and really need your dollars.
The largest charity in the U.S. by donations ($3.9 billion last year) United Way has a built-in efficiency edge, since 57% of its donations come through payroll withholding and another 20% from corporate donations. Still, when CEO Brian Gallagher took over a decade ago, the sprawling organization was recovering from a nasty scandal (a previous CEO went to jail) and suffering from a lack of focus (it was simply sprinkling money around to every group). Gallagher has turned what was a “loose confederation” into something more akin to a global franchise operation, with 1,800 chapters worldwide, including 1,200 in the U.S. The domestic chapters, and later foreign affiliates, were required to agree to independent review boards, audits and limits on marketing tactics. “Just as McDonald’s would, we needed to ask ourselves, where do we have to be consistent and where do we allow innovation on the ground?” says Gallagher. U.S. chapters now pay 1% of funds raised to the parent organization. About a quarter of what United Way takes in domestically is directed by donors to other charities. Money that stays with United Way is now used for one of three focus areas: education, income and health (particularly obesity prevention).