Scope of the Arizona Nonprofit Sector

Public charities

Public charities

Public charities comprise the largest portion of 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. These organizations receive broad public support, and contributions made to them are tax-deductible.

Public charities operate across the full range of social action, including social services, health care, education, arts, and civic engagement. Public charities are funded in a variety of ways, the two main categories being earned revenue, which includes fees, government contracts, and sales, and donative revenue, which includes public contributions and grants.

Top public charities

The largest nonprofit organization (and public charity) in Arizona is Banner Health, which in 2015 reported total revenues of $5.87 billion.

Excluding health and mental care, the largest Arizona nonprofit organization in 2015 was Creative Testing Solutions, with $226.18 million in total revenue. However, Muscular Dystrophy Association is the largest donative nonprofit in the state. With $126.04 million in reported revenue in 2015, nearly all of the organization's revenue came from contributions.



Religious congregations are public charities. There are an estimated 3,560 religious congregations in Arizona, of which 1,550 are registered with the IRS. However, congregations are not required to file a yearly 990 return; therefore, aggregate data on congregation revenues are unavailable. For more information about this type of public charity, please see the section Congregations.

Public charities: reported revenues and income sources

The health care sub-sector accounts for the vast majority of reported nonprofit revenues, more than all other sub-sectors combined. With $1.64 billion in revenues, Education is the second largest subcategory followed by Others. As the chart below illustrates, 89 percent of health care revenues are earned, versus all other nonprofit sub-sectors, which average 41 percent earned income.

Many nonprofits are seeking to find a better balance between earned income and philanthropic sources as a way to increase sustainability. The chart below illustrates the percentages of earned vs. contributed revenue by sub-sector.


Religious congregations are not required to file a form 990, therefore, revenues for the religion sub-sector are highly under-reported.

Charitable contributions to churches are estimated to be higher than the total revenue of the human services subsector. Read more in the section Congregations.