Celebrating 30 years of helping you give wisely
America's most independent,
assertive charity watchdog

The Carter Center: A Lasting Legacy of President Jimmy Carter

   Mar 30, 2023

With news of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's failing health and subsequent move into hospice care, we examine one notable aspect of his legacy, The Carter Center. This public charity was founded in 1982 by Jimmy Carter and his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and now operates in partnership with Emory University to advance human rights and alleviate unnecessary human suffering.

The Carter Center has consistently proven itself to be a financially efficient organization based on CharityWatch's nearly two decades of analysis of its audited financial statements and tax filings. That said, if you donate to The Carter Center today, it may not use your donation for a very long time. If you are considering making a donation to The Carter Center, CharityWatch provides the following information for your consideration. 

CharityWatch's Rating of The Carter Center 

CharityWatch's most current rating of The Carter Center is based on our analysis of its consolidated audited financial statements and IRS tax Forms 990 for the fiscal year ended 8/31/2021. CharityWatch assigned The Carter Center a final rating of "F" on our "A+" to "F" rating scale due to the charity having years of available assets in reserve of 9.9 years as of 8/31/2021. This rating was downgraded from a financial efficiency rating of "A." Our analysis concluded that The Carter Center spent 81% of its cash expenses on programs and spent $12 to raise each $100 of cash support in fiscal 2021. 

Mission & Programs

The mission of The Carter Center is to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering. The Carter Center describes its largest program in its fiscal 2021 tax filing in the following way:

"The Carter Center health programs fight six preventable diseases...guinea worm, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and malaria - by using health education and simple, low-cost methods, The Center also strives to improve access to mental health care. These efforts have brought to resource-limited countries better disease surveillance and health care delivery systems, many established as part of The Center's historic campaign to eradicate guinea worm disease. Because communities are often burdened by several diseases, The Center is pioneering new public health approaches to efficiently and effectively impact general populations."

Is The Carter Center a Top-Rated Charity?

The Carter Center meets CharityWatch's benchmarks for financial efficiency, governance, and transparency based on our analysis of its fiscal 2021 consolidated audited financial statements and IRS Tax Forms 990 for the two public charities included therein. These include The Carter Center, tax ID#58-1454716; and The Carter Center Collaborative, Tax ID#20-5704991. However, the organization does not qualify as a Top-Rated charity due to its years of available assets of 9.9 years as of the end of that reporting year. Meaning, this charity could continue to operate for 9.9 years at fiscal 2021 cash spending levels without raising another penny of donations or other revenue. 

Giving is a fixed pie, remaining steady at about 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) since the mid-twentieth century. Because charitable dollars are limited and society's needs are not, it is vital that charities do not hoard the funds that they raise.

CharityWatch believes it is reasonable for a charity to set aside less than three years' worth its annual budget for financial stability and possible future needs. When a charity's available assets in reserve is greater than or equal to three years' worth its annual budget, CharityWatch downgrades its final letter grade rating. However, we continue to show what a charity's financial efficiency rating was prior to being downgraded for those donors who do not wish to factor a charity's high assets into their giving decisions. 

Read our article, Don't Judge a Not-For-Profit by its Profits, for factors to consider when assessing a charity's financial stability. See Our Process page for a detailed explanation of CharityWatch's treatment of high assets. 

In-Kind Goods & Services

According to The Carter Center consolidated audit of August 31, 2021 (Note 9, In-Kind Gifts), the Center received in-kind donated goods and services in fiscal 2021 on which it placed a total value of $204,450,299. Of this total, $203,860,578 consisted of donated medication.

[Note: CharityWatch generally excludes the value of in-kind (non-cash) donations of goods and services from its calculations of Program % and Cost to Raise $100. More information on how grades are calculated and the treatment of in-kind donations can be found on the Our Process page.]

Related-Party Transactions

According to The Carter Center consolidated audit of August 31, 2021 (Note 14, Related-Party Transactions):

"Emory University provides certain administrative functions to the Center, including, but not limited to, payroll administration, investment management, information technology, and legal services. The Center paid Emory University $638,557 during both the years ended August 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively, for the provision of these services.

"Emory University made unrestricted contributions to the Center of $753,904 and $753,911, respectively, for the years ended August 31, 2021 and 2020. In addition, CCEU [Carter Center of Emory University, a department of EU] made unrestricted contributions to CCI [the Center], primarily related to endowment earnings at CCEU, of $468,592 during each of the years ended August 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively."

Additionally, according to The Carter Center tax filing for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2021, the Center reports for Business Transactions Involving Interested Persons, a transaction involving Rebecca Carter, the "spouse of child of board member," in the amount of $146,672 for employee compensation (IRS Form 990, Schedule L, Parts IV and V).

Related Charities

Carter Center