Report: Catholic groups among the wealthiest charities in the U.S.

Betty Howard arranges produce at the City Greens at Midtown Center in St. Louis, June 17, 2010. The project is sponsored by Catholic Charities (CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review).Betty Howard arranges produce at the City Greens at Midtown Center in St. Louis, June 17, 2010. The project is sponsored by Catholic Charities. (CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review)

Several organizations with Catholic ties appear on the Philanthropy 400, a list compiled by The Chronicle of Philanthropy newspaper that tracks how much money nonprofit organizations raise through private donations.

Three Catholic charitable organizations that support programs in the United States and around the world rank among the top 100 groups in terms of fundraising.

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Catholic Charities USA, the umbrella organization for the nation’s many Catholic Charities agencies, fell one spot on the list from last year to number five, raising about $2 billion in 2015. Giving was down about 4 percent compared to the year before, the report said.

The organization has been in the top 15 since the Philanthropy 400 was created in 1991. It peaked at number three in 1993 and it’s landed in the top 10 from 2010 through this year.

The U.S. Catholic Church’s main international charity, Catholic Relief Services, came in at number 61. It raised almost $391 million, a jump of 8 percent compared to the year before.

C.R.S. saw a 40 percent spike in giving between fiscal years 2013 and 2014, the Chronicle reported. A spokeswoman for the Baltimore-based agency told America that the increase was due to a number of international emergencies, including Super Typhoon Haiyan, for which it raised $50 million.

New York-based Catholic Medical Mission Board, which works to improve healthcare in developing nations, was ranked 93.

It raised about $276 million in 2015, down more than 25 percent compared to the year before. More than half of its 2015 haul came from donated goods, such as medicines, the report said. According to the Chronicle, the charity peaked in terms of fundraising in 2013, when it brought in more than half a billion dollars.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy included gifts of cash, stock, land and goods in tabulating the list. Government contracts were not counted. Researchers used IRS forms, public reports and surveys to compile the list.

Many of the organizations that made the cut were colleges and universities, including a few Catholic institutions.

The University of Notre Dame came in at number 63, raising close to $380 million last year, up nearly 19 percent from the previous year.

Three other Catholic schools to make the list were Jesuit-affiliated. At number 159 was Georgetown University, which raised $172 million; Boston College was ranked 181, bringing in $152 million; and Marquette University came in at 354, raising about $77 million. All three schools saw double-digit increases in their fundraising compared to last year.

A California-based Catholic hospital network, Dignity Health, came in at number 258, raising about $112 million, and Father Flanagan’s Boys Town in Omaha was number 249, raising $117 million.

Total U.S. giving in 2015 topped $104 billion, a new record. And for the first time in the report’s history, a donor-advised fund took the number one spot, knocking off the United Way, which has raised the most money every year except 2006.

Donor-advised funds appeal to wealthier Americans who want more control over how their gifts are used. They are gaining in popularity, but not without controversy.

The Chronicle found that 85 of the nation’s largest donor-advised funds manage about $51 billion in assets, and that payouts to charities are slowing.

Critics contend that the money sits for years in accounts, making money for banks, when it could be used for charitable needs. They are largely free from the regulations charities face about how quickly gifts must be used for their intended purposes, critics say, and as a result, charities suffer.

Michael O’Loughlin is the national correspondent for America and author of The Tweetable Pope: A Spiritual Revolution in 140 Characters. Follow him on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.

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