News & Updates


Wise Giving Wednesday: How Many Charities in the U.S.?

Dec 9, 2020

The 2019 edition of the Internal Revenue Service Data Book, which is an annual publication of statistics about returns filed, contains a table which shows the number of tax-exempt organizations. Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code includes 20 different categories of tax-exempt organizations (including, but not limited to, labor unions, lobbying organizations, business leagues, recreation clubs, fraternal groups, benevolent life insurance companies, etc.). For 2019, the IRS reports that the combined total number of organizations under this 501(c) category was 1,718,233.

The largest of these categories in terms of the number of organizations, is section 501(c)(3) which covers charitable organizations. The IRS reports that in 2019 there were 1,365,744 organizations that were included in this 501(c)(3) charitable tax-exempt status. That total represents 79% of the combined total number of 501(c) groups referenced above. The total number of charities is actually higher than this figure since it does not include houses of worship as well as small organizations (with gross revenues less than $5,000) which are both not required to apply for 501(c)(3) status in order to have charitable tax-exempt status.

The information in the IRS Data Book for the past five years, shows the total average gain in the number of 501(c)(3) organizations has been about 36,000 charities per year. This average increase incorporates newly formed organizations and reflects subtractions of those that have either lost their exempt status or ceased operations: 

Number of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charities

2015      1,184,547
2016      1,237,094
2017      1,286,181
2018      1,327,714
2019      1,365,744

(For those interested in accessing statistics about charities in Canada, see the following report produced by the Canada Revenue Agency.)

Although the increase in the number of charities creates a growing number of contribution choices for donors, it also helps generate new approaches to problems and issues. Also, we believe the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability provides helpful guidance for both new and existing charities and also helps donors identify trustworthy organizations.

Video of the Week

As part of the Building Trust Video series, we are pleased to provide a video interview that features John Walker, CEO of SOAR365, a BBB Accredited Charity based in Richmond, VA that helps families and individuals cope with the challenges of living with a disability.  They offer services such as home pediatric therapy for infants and toddlers and day programs that help develop social, behavioral, physical and cognitive skills.

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance