Make us your home page

Top Florida charities: Amid weak economy, giving drops at some, gains at others

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that donations to large charities, including the Salvation Army, fell in 2009.

Times files (2008)

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that donations to large charities, including the Salvation Army, fell in 2009.

Giving is still shrinking. It's one more troubling ripple of the struggling economy.

The nation's 400 biggest charities suffered an 11 percent drop in giving last year. That's the worst decline in the two decades since the Chronicle of Philanthropy started ranking those who get the most from private (nongovernment) sources.

Forecasts for 2010 giving seem little improved; donations are expected to rise by a median of just 1 percent this year, meaning that half expect to do worse than that.

And 2011 won't be much better. The buzz heard in philanthropic circles is similar to what's whispered in certain industries like housing, construction and manufacturing.

Are these just temporary declines or are we seeing a more permanent downscaling in giving that is part of the so called "new normal" in Florida and America?

Consumers are cutting back on spending on many fronts, and that apparently includes giving to charities. The trick is, lean times such as these are when charity work is most necessary, especially when government coffers that usually provide some last line of support for the needy are stretched and likely to become more so with budget cuts.

Some charities also are trying to figure out how to persuade younger people to give by reaching out online and appealing via social networks.

Combined, the "Philanthropy 400" raised $68.6 billion in 2009. Sounds big, but the 11 percent drop in contributions was nearly four times as great as the next biggest annual decrease: 2.8 percent in 2001, during another, less profound recession.

Of the top 10 charities last year, giving to United Way Worldwide (No. 1) decreased by 4.5 percent and to the Salvation Army (No. 2) by 8.4 percent. Others in the top 10 reporting declines last year include the American Cancer Society and the Y.

"It shows that charities are really having a tough time, and this is some of the most successful charities in the United States," Chronicle of Philanthropy editor Stacy Palmer told the Associated Press. "Usually, bigger charities are more resilient, so that's the part that is still surprising."

Among the nine Florida charities included in the Chronicle's latest Philanthropy 400 list, giving from private supporters varied wildly. Four Florida charities reported declines, including a whopper: No. 6 on the list of 400 and Florida's largest.

The international Food for the Poor charity in Coconut Creek, which helps feed the poorest of the poor (including Haiti earthquake victims), saw giving drop 27.6 percent in 2009 after at least seven straight years of double-digit gains.

But two other Florida charities, Tampa's Shriners Hospitals for Children and Orlando's Wycliffe Bible Translators, reported major giving gains of 20.8 and 31.3 percent, respectively. Messages seeking comment on how Shriners pulled off such a big charity gain in tough times were not returned Monday.

There were some charity casualties in the latest rankings — organizations once on the Philanthropy 400 that got squeezed off this year's list.

Among them was one familiar institution: Florida State University.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at

How Florida's biggest charities fared

Nine charities based in the Sunshine State made the Philanthropy 400 list of largest philanthropic organizations in the country, using the 2009 data.

Rank Rank in 400 Name Private support Change from 2008
1 6 Food for the Poor $1.08 billion –27.6%
2 24 Campus Crusade
for Christ International
$473 million –2.3%
3 40 Shriners Hospitals
for Children
$342 million +20.8%
4 63 Cross International
$254 million +0.5%
5 81 University of Florida $203 million –2.1%
6 91 American-Nicaraguan Foundation $193 million 0%
7 96 Wycliffe Bible Translators $183 million +31.3%
8 123 University of Miami $154 million –23.3%
9 140 Nemours Foundation $140 million 0%

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Top Florida charities: Amid weak economy, giving drops at some, gains at others 10/18/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 11:28am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members


    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  2. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion


    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  3. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  4. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times


    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]
  5. The Iron Yard coding academy to close in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Iron Yard, a code-writing academy with a location in downtown St. Petersburg, will close for good this summer.

    Instructors (from left) Mark Dewey, Jason Perry, and Gavin Stark greet the audience at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S, in St. Petersburg during "Demo Day" Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at The Iron Yard, which is an immersive code school that is part of a trend of trying to address the shortage of programmers.  The academy is closing this summer.  [LARA CERRI   |   Times]