Posted by: Don Linnen | 31 December 2009

A Visual Guide to Giving

It’s that time of year again – at least it’s the time when nonprofits make one more appeal before the year ends – and before they start appealing again in the new year. Nothing like a deadline – real or self imposed – to make something happen.

Earlier this month, a terrific infographic on giving, Charity: Who Cares?, was released by and As a visual kind of guy who thinks in terms of who gives what and why, I love this kind of information.

It puts into perspective the $300B given to charities and the $404B given to WalMart every year. According to, the charities collect less than a third of what they need to keep the lights on. Nothing like a little context to get your brain spinning about reality.

The data for the infographic comes from three sources:

1)  Charity Navigator, one of the most significant, independent, national charity evaluators (Guidestar is another)
2)  The National Center for Charitable Statistics, established in 1982, it’s the national clearinghouse for nonprofit data
3)  The Center for Philanthropy, the nationally renowned center of nonprofit studies at Indiana University

These sources are about as neutral and accurate as can be. However, there is always someone who wants to disagree. Based on the comments at the bottom of the chart, the report does step on a few toes.

Decide who and what you want to believe. While you’re thinking about it, I hope you’re doing all you can to nurture your individual donors. If you haven’t noticed, they’re kind of important.

One last note:  to keep your brain spinning, take a minute – literally – to check out the YouTube explanation of just how much is a trillion. Some say trillion is the new billion. Think big!

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