Charity Navigator Bullish on Cincinnati Charities

By Jackie Reau, Publisher/Editor

Cincinnati has a rich history of being generous and supporting its local charities. The United Way of Greater Cincinnati has been raising funds for social services and community initiatives for more than 100 years, and ArtsWave, formerly known as the Fine Arts Fund, dates back to 1927 with the first investment made by Charles and Anna Taft to support the city’s cultural assets.

But do you know how Cincinnati’s charities and their overall performance stack up on a national basis?

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   Sandra Miniutti, Vice President for Charity Navigator

Sandra Miniutti, Vice President for Charity Navigator

To answer this question, we asked Sandra Miniutti, Vice President for Charity Navigator, the group that rates thousands of charities to help donors make informed giving choices and publishes all of those ratings at

Each year, Charity Navigator conducts an annual national study to analyze differences in the financial, accountability and transparency practices of charities in various metropolitan markets across America.  The 2016 Metro Market Study can be found here.

Miniutti summed up her response: “There isn’t much that Cincinnati charities aren’t doing well, as a whole, in terms of their financial performance.”

Top 56 Largest Charities in Cincinnati

She continued: “The Cincinnati metro market ranks sixth in terms of its overall financial performance. The only financial metric that falls below the national media is program expenses growth, which measures the charity’s change in spending on programs over time. And the median growth for this metric in Cincinnati was just 3.1% (ranking 26th) whereas the national median was 4.3% growth.”

With strong leadership of the United Way and ArtsWave along with their layers of annual support from local companies to individuals, it’s no surprise that Arts and Human Services comprise almost half of the donations distribution in Cincinnati. According to Charity Navigator, Cincinnati has the highest concentration of large Arts, Culture and Humanities charities out of the 30 markets examined in this study at a 25% share whereas most markets have about a 14% share.

Additionally, another 23% of the large charities in Cincinnati are classified as Human Service charities, which is slightly below the average percentage of 28% for the rest of the metro areas examined in this study.

"ArtsWave relies on tens of thousands of citizen donors each year, many giving through payroll deduction,” said Alecia Kintner, President & CEO of ArtsWave. “We place the utmost importance on their privacy, engagement with ArtsWave, and active involvement with the many cultural resources of our region. As we countdown to the start of the 2017 ArtsWave Community Campaign, we are developing exciting new programs and tools to connect the people of Greater Cincinnati to the arts. And with their financial contributions, we can ensure that arts organizations funded by ArtsWave have the largest possible impact on our community."

Source: Charity Navigator

I asked Miniutti for her analysis of Cincinnati charities as a whole and she shared the following:

  • “Large charities in Cincinnati spend more on programs than nearly every other market examined in this study. Specifically, the charities in Cincinnati that we looked at report spending a median 83.6% on programs, ranking second out of the 30 cities for this metric.”
  • “It is important for charities to have a rainy day fund that they can turn to if times get tough. Charity Navigator likes to see that charities have six months to one year of reserves on hand. And Cincinnati charities report a median working capital of 1.56 years, which puts them in third place for this metric.”
  • “Cincinnati charities are also very efficient fundraisers ranking second for ‘fundraising efficiency.’ They report spending just 8 cents to raise one dollar in donations.”

This is all good news as you think about your next charitable investment.

Miniutti offers a few tips to consider when researching a charity with their impact and effectiveness:

  • “Examine the charity's finances. Financially healthy organizations, those that are both financially efficient and sustainable, have greater flexibility and freedom to pursue their charitable mission.”
  • “Ensure the charity is accountable and transparent. Charities that are an open book and follow good governance practices are less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities. Look for signs of effectiveness. The charity's ability to bring about long-lasting and meaningful change in the world is the key reason for their existence and for your donation, so make sure you find evidence of its impact.”

Distribution of Cincinnati Charities