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Top 400 fundraisers: 13 arts and culture groups make the list

October 21, 2013|By Mike Boehm
  • A newly published list of the top 400 American charities ranked by donations received in 2011-12 places USC at No. 30. Its Bovard Administration Building is pictured. The top arts and culture fundraiser was the Smithsonian Institution, at No. 95.
A newly published list of the top 400 American charities ranked by donations… (Don Bartletti/Los Angeles…)

Thirteen arts and cultural institutions have made the most recent top 400 list of American charities, ranked by the donations they took in.

They include one Southern California organization, the San Diego Zoo, which raised $57.65 million to rank 363rd.

Also in the Top 400 list compiled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy were the Smithsonian Institution and five other museums, four performing arts organizations, one hybrid (the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, whose tenants include the High Museum of Art, the Atlanta Symphony and the Alliance Theatre), and the George W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library, which opened this year in Dallas.

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Of the top 50 charities, 16 were universities, including No. 30 USC ($491.85 million) and No. 45 UCLA ($344.2 million). USC was the fourth most-successful fundraiser nationally among universities, behind Stanford, Harvard and Yale; UCLA was 13th among universities.

Also making the top 400 list were the California State University system (84th overall), UC San Diego (160), UC Santa Barbara (209) CalTech (223) and UC Irvine (288).

The rankings, published Monday, cover donations that organizations received in 2012 or in fiscal years straddling 2011 and 2012. The Chronicle found that the growth rate for donations to the top 400 recipients declined from about 8% in 2011 to 4% in 2012. It projects a 1% decrease in donations in 2013, based on estimates from 88 organizations. It said that only about half the organizations in the top 400 list are raising more money annually now than they did in 2007.

The Smithsonian Institution, which oversees multiple museums in Washington and New York City, as well as the National Zoo, was the top magnet for cultural donations, ranking 95th with $210.46 million. The Chronicle didn’t count the $811.5 million appropriation the Smithsonian received from the federal government in 2011-12.

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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s campaign to build a new wing helped it quintuple its donations to $180.96 million in 2011-12. Its ranking, 122nd, was the second-highest for a cultural institution.

President Bush’s museum and library ($72.85 million), the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. ($57.57 million), the Woodruff Center ($54.06 million) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston ($53.56 million) were the only other cultural organizations making the list that are not based in New York City. They ranked 307th, 365th, 382nd and 391st, respectively.

New York’s big cultural fundraisers were the Metropolitan Museum of Art (138), Metropolitan Opera (158), Museum of Modern Art (224), American Museum of Natural History (267) and Carnegie Hall (296). Their donations for the year ranged from $74.2 million to $166.54 million.

The Public Broadcasting Service ranked 105th with $198.88 million; the other public broadcasting outlets on the list were Boston’s WGBH (198), New York’s WNET (250) and San Francisco’s KQED (370).

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The Entertainment Industry Foundation, which calls itself “Hollywood’s Leading Charity” and makes grants nationwide, but not primarily in the arts, ranked 364th, raising $57.64 million.

The top three charities overall were United Way Worldwide ($3.93 billion); Fidelity Charitable, a wing of the Fidelity investment company that manages so-called “donor-advised funds” for individual clients who earmark investments for charity and can designate where the money eventually goes ($3.28 billion); and the Salvation Army ($1.89 billion).

The other charities on the list with missions focused primarily on Los Angeles were the California Community Foundation (162nd, with $134.82 million in donations), City of Hope cancer research hospital (218), the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (332), Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (341) and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (373).

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that “the rising fortunes of the wealthy in the post-recession economy spurred a flood of multimillion-dollar gifts in 2012,” and that the trend has more than doubled in 2013. It counted $8 billion in gifts of $1 million or more as of early October, compared to just under $3.8 billion for the same period in 2012.

Meanwhile, the Chronicle reported, “many…charities…which rely on a broad pool of donations from Americans at all income levels continue struggling to win support.”

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