Like any other venture, charities have trademark rights. Charities’ names and logos are important assets, and consumer confusion (especially donation-related scams) can be a significant problem for many charities. With that in mind, we took a look at how the twenty-five largest charities in the US treat their trademark portfolios.
There is as much variation in the charities’ trademark protection strategies as there is in the organizations’ charitable missions. Some, like the United Way, St. Jude, and Cru, are very active applicants with numerous trademark registrations and pending applications; others, like the Task Force for Global Health and the Patient Access Network Foundation, have little to no registry presence. There were no obvious correlations between trademark filing decisions and the nature of the charity, its geographic focus, or its religious affiliation or lack thereof.
The graph below is normalized: blue shows the charity’s revenue, red total US trademark filings, and yellow 2016 trademark filings.
For the curious, the non-normalized data follows: it includes not only the three categories charted above but also the “expense ratio” from CharityNavigator.org — the percentage of revenue spent on the stated charitable goal, at least for those organizations required to publicly report that data. CharityNavigator.org has many additional metrics that normalize expense ratios across different types of organizations, which may necessitate very different cost structures.
|United Way Worldwide||$3,708.00||174||16||91.60%|
|Task Force for Global Health||$3,154||0||0||not rated|
|Salvation Army||$1,904||77||2||not rated|
|YMCA of the USA||$1,202||74||1||not rated|
|St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital||$1,181||210||14||69.20%|
|Food for the Poor||$1,156||7||0||95.70%|
|Boys & Girls Clubs of America||$923||32||0||81.80%|
|Catholic Charities USA||$921||2||0||78.20%|
|Goodwill Industries International||$902||82||7||not rated|
|Habitat for Humanity International||$829||40||1||81.90%|
|American Cancer Society||$810||79||6||59.90%|
|Patient Access Network Foundation||$801||1||0||not rated|
|Lutheran Services in America||$723||7||1||not rated|
|American Heart Association||$634||97||11||78.70%|
|American National Red Cross||$624||46||0||90.10%|
|Step Up for Students||$521||0||0||98.90%|