Catholic Charities USA



Alexandria, VA

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:





Sister Donna Markham


Religious charity

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 Catholic Charities USA (CCU) is an umbrella group for local charities throughout the United States affiliated with the Catholic Church. It is the largest social safety net provider in the United States after the federal government. 1

The group operates a wide variety of charitable social services, including food banks, foster care, adoption centers, immigrant detainee housing, disaster response, and workforce training. Much of CCU’s operations are conducted through contracts with state and local governments, causing one critic to call CCU “an arm of the welfare state.” 2

Catholic Charities USA primarily supports left-of-center political goals concerning the expansion of welfare, including expanding food stamps, raising the minimum wage, and more government subsidies for children. However, CCU holds conservative positions on same-sex couples and abortion.

CCU, as well as 11 of its affiliates, is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Ascend Network, a project to coordinate philanthropic groups and support best practices. 3


In 1910, 400 individuals attended the first National Conference of Catholic Charities (NCCC) to coordinate charitable efforts across the United States. During the Great Depression, the NCCC was a strong advocate for the establishment of government welfare programs. 4

In 1986, the NCCC was renamed to Catholic Charities USA, with the national organization taking a more centralized role over its dozens of local affiliates. 5

In 1990, the CCU expanded its efforts into disaster relief. 6

In 2007, the CCU launched its War on Poverty program, with the goal of cutting American poverty in half by 2020. 7


Catholic Charities USA supports mostly left-of-center welfare expansionist political policies, including government-subsidized housing, government subsidies and tax credits for families, universal pre-K education, expansion of food stamps, expanded Medicare, liberal immigration policies, and the permanent establishment of the Universal Charitable Deduction. 8

In 2010, CCU president Larry Snyder was made a member of President Barack Obama’s (D) Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. 9


CCU supports the American Dream and Promise Act (ADPA), which provides a pathway to citizenship for immigrant beneficiaries of the proposed DREAM Act. Passage of the ADPA would facilitate residency of Dreamers while the DREAM Act continues to be debated. 10

In February 2022, the CCU was named in a lawsuit by the right-wing CatholicVote against Sister Norma Pimentel, a nun who runs an immigrant support center in McAllen, Texas. CatholicVote demanded the publication of communications between Pimentel, the CCU, and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Allegedly, the Pimentel and the CCU coordinated with the Border Patrol to facilitate the entry of more illegal immigrants into the United States. 11

CCU “strongly oppose[d]” President Donald Trump’s (R) restrictions on asylum access implemented in 2020. 12

In 2019, CCU issued a call for more donations, 100% of which would go toward supporting immigrants at the American border. 13

Criminal Justice

CCU supports increased funding for the U.S. Department of Justice on grant programs designed to prevent youth crime and reduce criminal recidivism. 14


In May 2022, CCU asked U.S. Congress to provide at least $10 billion in funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and $5 billion for foreign distribution. 15

Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption

CCU opposes same sex marriage. In 2010, Washington, D.C., was in the process of enacting legal recognition of same-sex marriages and was considering measures to require city contractors to recognize same-sex marriages. The CCU was a contractor at the time earning over $20 million in revenue from the city. In response to the city’s discussions, the CCU first considered ending its contracts, but eventually announced that it would not provide benefits to the spouses of new workers so that it would not be legally obligated to provide benefits to same-sex spouses. 16

As a city and state contractor, CCU has faced ongoing disputes with states regarding the same-sex foster parents and adoptions. CCU is officially against same-sex foster parenting and adoption, but at times has permitted limited same-sex participation in compliance with state rules. For instance, from 1985-1995, CCU facilitated the adoption of 13 children by same-sex couples. 17 The adoptions caused an exodus of CCU board members; in March 2006, then Cardinal-elect Sean O’Malley met with then-Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) to request help in obtaining an exemption from the same-sex requirements on religious freedom grounds on behalf Catholic Charities. Governor Romney voiced support but took no significant action. 18

In 2011, in Rockford, Illinois, the local CCU group ended its foster care and adoption services to avoid being shut down by the state for discriminating against same-sex couples. 19 Months later, after same-sex marriage had been granted legal recognition in the state, Illinois declined to renew its contract with CCU. 20


The CCU opposes abortion and supports adoption as an alternative. 21

In 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to determine if the CCU was providing access to contraception and abortion to immigrant children housed at CCU facilities as a federal contractor. 22


In 2021, Catholic Charities USA received over $2 million in federal grants, including $601,000 from the Department of Justice, $595,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, $573,000 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and $244,000 from the Corporation for National and Community Service. 23

In 2018, CCU lost “significant” funding from donors after revelations of a wave of sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church. 24


Associations with Government Bureaucracy

In 2000, then-City Journal editor Brian Anderson criticized Catholic Charities USA for becoming “an arm of the welfare state, with 65 percent of its $2.3 billion annual budget now flowing from government sources,” little of which went toward religious or “values-laden” activities. 25

Anderson argued that CCU initially operated as a private alternative to the welfare state which ran on voluntary contributions, encouraged personal responsibility, and was highly efficient with its money. Over time, the CCU become more heavily intertwined with state and federal governments until it largely abandoned its previous outlook and adopted an amoral approach to philanthropy which distributes money arbitrarily. Anderson attributed that start of this shift to the rise of far-left Liberation Theology within the CCU in the 1970s, and an ongoing focus on race as a root cause of American poverty. 26

Anderson also pointed to the CCU’s political advocacy which supports a wide range of left-of-center welfare expansions, including raising the minimum wage, stopping the privatization of social security, and opposing the 1990s welfare reforms. In its internal policies, Anderson pointed to numerous instances of the CCU compromising on its moral beliefs, including providing adoptions to same-sex couples and making referrals for abortions. 27

Associations with America’s Promise Alliance

In 2013, the right-wing American Life League accused CCU “of playing the devil’s game of compromise” and “promoting homosexual activism and birth control” because its then-president Larry Snyder sat on the board of trustees of the America’s Promise Alliance (APA). The APA attempts to improve the lives of youth through education, particularly to reduce dropout rates. Some of the APA’s efforts include promoting LGBTQ acceptance and birth control to reduce teen pregnancy. 28


  1. “’Without Compassion, I Fear We Are Complicit’: An Interview with Sr. Donna Markham.” Catholic Charities USA. April 7, 2020. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  2. Anderson, Brian C. “How Catholic Charities Lost Its Soul.” City Journal, 2000.
  3. Ascend Network.” Aspen Institute. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  4. “Our History.” Catholic Charities USA. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  5. “Our History.” Catholic Charities USA. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  6. “Our History.” Catholic Charities USA. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  7. “Our History.” Catholic Charities USA. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  8. “Tell Congress to prioritize vulnerable people in upcoming vote.” Catholic Charities USA. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  9. [1] “President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.” Pew Research Center. August 18, 2009. Accessed June 30, 2022.
  10. “American Dream and Promise Act.” VoterVoice. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  11. Gehring, John. “When Catholics put their politics before faith.” Daily News. February 18, 2022. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  12. “Catholic Charities USA Strongly Opposes the Administration’s Proposed Changes to the U.S. Asylum Rule.” Catholic Charities USA. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  13. Crary, David. “Catholic Charities tested by abuse scandals, border crises.” Associated Press. July 27, 2019. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  14. “Letter urges Congress to support robust funding for DOJ.” Catholic Charities USA. June 23, 2022. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  15. “Joint letter to congress urging COVID-19 vaccination funding.” Catholic Charities USA. May 12, 2022. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  16. Wan, William. “Same-sex marriage leads Catholic Charities to adjust benefits.” Washington Post. March 2, 2010.
  17. [1] Wen, Patricia. “Archdiocesan agency aids in adoption by gays.” October 22, 2015. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  18. [1] Mehren, Elizabeth. “Church Losing Its Clout.” Los Angeles Times. March 3, 2006. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  19. Brachear, Manya, A. “Catholic Charities of Rockford ends foster care, adoption services.” Chicago Tribune. May 26, 2011. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  20. Brachear, Manya, A. “State severs foster care ties with Catholic Church.” Chicago Tribune. July 11, 2011. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  21. “Abortion.” Catholic Charities USA. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  22.   Lind, Dara. “Why the ACLU is suing over Catholic groups and abortions for unauthorized immigrants.” Vox. April 7, 2015. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  23. “Catholic Charities USA Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  24. Bourne, Lisa. “Catholic Charities USA loses ‘significant’ donors in wake of sex abuse crisis.” Life Site News. November 12, 2018. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  25. Anderson, Brian C. “How Catholic Charities Lost Its Soul.” City Journal. Winter 2000. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  26. Anderson, Brian C. “How Catholic Charities Lost Its Soul.” City Journal. Winter 2000. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  27. Anderson, Brian C. “How Catholic Charities Lost Its Soul.” City Journal. Winter 2000. Accessed June 28, 2022.
  28. Roewe, Brian. “American Life League chastises Catholic Charities USA for affiliation.” August 9, 2013. Accessed June 28, 2022.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 2014

  • Available Filings

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Catholic Charities USA

    Alexandria, VA 22314-6892