Houston ranks second most giving city in US

Updated: 2014-11-27 17:21


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HOUSTON - For the second year in a row, Houston ranks second nationally in giving with local charities' financial health, accountability and transparency, a study showed.

Data from the 2014 Metro Market Charitable Analysis Study by Charity Navigator, the country's largest firm to evaluate charity and nonprofit organizations, showed that Houston is only behind St. Louis, Missouri, in its generosity.

Other cities of the top five of the 30 highest-spending markets in charitable giving are Cleveland in the state of Ohio, Minneapolis/St. Paul in the state of Minnesota and Pittsburgh in the state of Pennsylvania.

"For the second consecutive year, Houston's largest charities rank second in the nation in terms of their financial health, accountability and transparency," said Sandra Miniutti, Charity Navigator's chief financial officer and vice-president of marketing.

Last year, Houston also ranked second after California's San Diego in the 2013 Charity Navigator study.

"This success is directly related to the efficiency with which Houston charities operate, a result of the hard work of both informed donors and responsible nonprofit leaders," she said.

Miniutti said that not only are Houston's big charities larger than the charities in most cities, but they're more efficient. Charities in Houston brings an average of $4.4 million, making Houstonians among the most generous among the 30 largest metropolitan markets, according to the study.

"It's good news for the donors of Houston that these charities have been able to parlay their size into strength and efficiency, and not bureaucratic waste," she said.

For the study, Charity Navigator evaluated large charities compliant with various transparency and accountability standards, as well as their sizes, growth, and financial performance.

The 30 organizations generate 65 percent of the total charitable revenue and about the same percentage in total spending by charitable agencies throughout the country.

In Houston, the study found that charities providing "human services" received the most contributions, a whopping 33.7 percent of the total. Charities supporting arts, culture and the humanities, was second, receiving 13.3 percent of donations.

In the third and fourth place, respectively, were education and health institutions, at around 12 percent each. Services which were described as "benefiting the general public" came in the fifth, at just under 10 percent. Smaller percentages went to agencies benefiting animals, international causes and religious programs.

Regional factors, "such as the cost of living, a market's maturity and a city's tendency to support one or two specialized causes, greatly influence the ability of the charities in each city to raise money, manage costs as well as their adherence to good governance policies and procedures," the study said.

Ken Berger, Charity Navigator's president and chief executive officer, said "different cities across America present unique challenges and opportunities to the charities that call it home."

The annual report is produced to help nonprofit leaders and donors in better understanding the regional differences that impact the ability of charities to efficiently fulfill their missions year after year, Berger said.