For the ninth year in a row, the Salvation Army has topped The Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of the nation's leading charities. The Salvation Army raised $1.44 billion in 2000, an increase of 3.1 percent since 1999, the independent national newspaper reported. Overall, the top U.S. charities saw donations increase 13 percent from 1999 to 2000. The Philanthropy 400 survey ranks 400 of the nation's largest nonprofits by the amount of money they raise from private sources. Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund was ranked second and the YMCA was ranked third.

Other than the Salvation Army, several religiously oriented charities were among the top 25 in the ranking. Lutheran Services in America ranked fifth, with $710 million. Catholic Charities USA ranked No. 13, with $414 million. Feed the Children, a Christian relief organization based in Oklahoma City, ranked 16th with $396 million. World Vision, a Christian relief organization based in Federal Way, Wash., ranked No. 17, with $372 million. Habitat for Humanity International ranked No. 18, with $371 million. Campus Crusade for Christ International ranked No. 21, with $326 million.

The top 400 charities included 21 organizations that were designated as religious groups, but other religious organizations in the listing were cited in other categories, such as human services or international work.

The American Red Cross, which was ranked at No. 6, has begun a search for new leadership after Dr. Bernadine Healy announced her resignation as president, effective Dec. 31, on Friday (Oct. 26). Healy's presidency, which began in September 1999, had grown controversial over such matters as decisions about the distribution of the more than $500 million the charity had raised for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and her support of withholding dues to the international Red Cross movement until it recognized Israel's Red Cross society. Referring to each matter, she said in her resignation speech that "reasonable people can differ."

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