The American Heart Association was founded in 1924 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Its popularity and national awareness skyrocketed when Procter & Gamble’s PR firm selected the American Heart Association as the charity to support in conjunction with their national radio production, “Truth of Consequences.” Since then, the AHA has been instrumental in helping to make Americans more aware of recommended dietary and lifestyle changes which are designed to help prevent heart disease, teach first aid and CPR techniques and signs of heart attack or stroke, among other missions.

Rank Chart
Total Income
Program Percentage
Our Score
#1
$888,650,367
99.2%
8.8
#2
$2,171,175,300
98%
7.8
#3
$912,451,190
95%
7.4
#21
thumbnail-30
Undisclosed
79.8%
4.3

The Good

  • 79.8 percent of revenue is used in project delivery
  • Strong donor communication
  • Awards and recognition

Administrative Expenses

For the fiscal year ending in 2015, the American Heart Association’s CEO, Nancy A. Brown drew an annual salary of $1,111,229. This is equivalent to 0.14 percent of the total 2015 annual revenue received by the American Heart Association. Annual salary data is not available for other executives.

Fundraising Expenses

The American Heart Association used 11.9 percent of their revenue towards meeting their fundraising goals in 2015. Past year figures are not available for comparison because the American Heart Association does not disclose past year financial statements online.

Program Percentage

In 2015, 79.8 percent of all revenue received by the American Heart Association is spent toward its program of education and awareness. Because the charity does not publish its past financial reports, the Review Team is unable to report on past years’ percentages.

Total Income

The American Heart Association had a total revenue of $178,275,142 from all sources. Data from past years is not published by the American Heart Association, but Charity Navigator has tracked the American Heart Association for several years and has limited information about the charity’s income/expense ratio for the last few years. The ratio of revenue to expenses has remained fairly constant for the last few years, with revenue climbing in 2014 and 2015 after experiencing little growth between 2012 and 2013.

Donor Communication

Users receive a receipt (either by email or postal mail) for their tax deductible donation. After making a contribution to the American Heart Association, donors can expect to be added to the charity’s mailing list (postal and email) and receive updates about the latest research and advocacy by the American Heart Association.

Awards

The American Heart Association has a prestigious history of finding scientists who have won the Nobel Prize. Thirteen scientists funded by the American Heart Association have won Nobel Prizes for their research. Of these, nine were wholly or partially funded for research related to their Nobel Prize, three were funded by the American Heart Association after their Nobel Prize and one was funded by the American Heart Association for research which was completed and not related to his Nobel Prize.

What Customers Are Saying

There are many who have comments on the American Heart Association’s social media accounts that their lives were saved by some aspect of the education which they (or those around them) had received about heart disease—particularly about heart attacks or strokes.

Cutting-Edge Research
Not many charities can boast funding the research of one Nobel Prize winning scientist; the American Heart Association has funded thirteen of them. Of these thirteen, nine were partially or fully funded in their research which resulted in their Nobel Prize by the American Heart Association. In addition to funding these scientists, the American Heart Association funds many research programs designed to help in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

CPR and First Aid Education
The American Heart Association is one of the primary providers of CPR and first aid education programs in the United States. They have even brought this education into the school systems, with some even suggesting that high schools should bring CPR and First Aid into the required curriculum for health education in the United States.

Stroke Awareness: Partnership with the American Stroke Association
The American Heart Association partners with the American Stroke Association to increase awareness of strokes. In 2014, the two partnered to create the first science-based guidelines for women and strokes, an underserved population with a growing incidence of strokes and heart disease.

Partnership with NFL Play 60 and Other School Programs
In an attempt to fight childhood obesity and increase the activity of American children who are living a more sedentary lifestyle than ever before, the American Heart Association has partnered with the National Football League and Discovery Education to promote the healthy lifestyle of being active for 60 minutes per day. This initiative includes an interactive app which can be downloaded for iOS and Android devices to encourage children to complete physical activity challenges. Teachers can also download lesson plans, information for families, and sample homework activities to include in their daily instruction to encourage children to stay active and track their active play. The American Heart Association has developed Hoops for Heart and Jump Rope for Heart programs for schools.

The Bad

  • High CEO salary
  • Past financial information not available
  • Negative press

Negative Press

The American Heart Association received many criticisms in 2012 when a tool on the company’s website for calculating a person’s risk for heart disease recommended that otherwise healthy people speak to their doctors about using a cholesterol-reducing statin. Several medical sources reacted to the change, stating that the American Heart Association was advancing the interests of large pharmaceutical companies and that the risk of statin drugs does not outweigh the potential benefit for those who were being told to speak to their doctor about starting statin treatment. The American Heart Association defended their position on the screening tool stating that there was enough evidence to suggest that the at risk population could benefit from additional preventative treatment.

Accessible Financial Information

The American Heart Association publishes their most recent financial statement on the website, but unlike many other charities, does not include previous years’ information. The report is relatively easy to find online and is comprehensive in its scope.

Nancy A. Brown Salary
The American Heart Association does not publish salary data on its top executives online. As such, the Review Team used data from the charity’s Form 990 which was filed with the Internal Revenue Service and is published online by Charity Navigator. According to information gathered by Charity Navigator, the CEO, Nancy A. Brown received $1,111,229 as her annual salary in 2015. Many former donors have expressed concern about this salary being too high and that more funds should be placed toward the charity’s program. As is, the percentage for this salary is 0.14 percent of the total revenue and 79.8 percent of revenue is spent on providing the program.

Lack of Past Financial Statements Online
Unlike many other charities, the American Heart Association does not publish their financial statements from past years online. As such, it is difficult to determine the trends in their program costs, income, etc. The financial statement for the past year is available for viewing or download, but is not as easily found as with some other charities. The AHA website is loaded with information and links are easily lost.

Unnecessarily Promoting Use of Statin Drugs
In 2012, the American Heart Association came under intense criticism for endorsing the use of statin cholesterol lowering drugs in a broader population, one that is at risk, and has yet to develop sign of heart disease. This practice, many have stated, will increase the use of drugs in an otherwise healthy population and statin drugs are not without their risks and side effects. There were some people who accused the American Heart Association of promoting big pharmaceutical companies and their interests over those of the American family. The AHA responded in defense of their policy, stating that this practice was a recommendation that was in accordance with the latest research on which people would develop heart disease.

What Customers Are Saying

As is the case with most charities, there are those who feel devotion to and strongly support their causes, while others do not. The two most common threads of concerns frequently brought up by disgruntled former donors is salaries and the statin issue discussed above.

The Bottom Line

The Review Team recommends that those looking to support a charity that funds education and research should consider the American Heart Association. Donors are able to see their donations being used in a charity which accomplishes their stated mission regularly. While heart disease and stroke remain serious health concerns, the impact of the American Heart Association is significant in the field. This work towards educating people of all ages is a great start to a healthy lifestyle.

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    November 26th, 2016 Lebanon, OH

    I never had or will I ever give to American Heart Association.!!!! I on average get five to seven calls a day from them asking for money.I have told them more then ten times to stop calling..Yet still they call..I have blocked three numbers that they have used to call me,but they seem to have lots of other numbers to call me with.

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