BOSTON – Outgoing grants and incoming contributions rose for the third and fourth consecutive year respectively for Fidelity Charitable, an independent public charity with a donor-advised fund program, making 2012 a record year for both measures of donor activity. In 2012, donors recommended more than 428,000 grants totaling $1.6 billion and contributed $3.6 billion to Fidelity Charitable for their charitable accounts, both dollar figures represent a 24 percent increase compared to 2011. The number of new charitable accounts opened rose 32 percent compared to 2011.
"Throughout 2012, donors took advantage of the improved stock market and economic conditions to contribute more to their charitable accounts and in turn better support the causes they care about," said Sarah Libbey, president of Fidelity Charitable. "We also saw many donors discover the benefits of using a donor-advised fund for the first time as the uncertain tax environment prompted more discussions about philanthropy between advisors and clients."
In the fourth quarter, which is generally the strongest for grants and contributions, donors recommended more than 172,000 grants totaling $657 million. Donors also contributed $2.4 billion, 66 percent of the annual total, slightly above the 60 percent that the final quarter of the year typically attracts.
Average Grant Size Rises; Enhancements Improve Granting Experience
The more than 428,000 grants to nonprofits made in 2012 represents a 13 percent increase compared to 2011. Donors recommended grants to charities in all 50 states with religion, human services, and education ranking as the top three sectors. The average grant size rose to $3,773 in 2012, a 10% increase compared to 2011.
Fidelity Charitable also made several enhancements to improve donors' experience with grants, including releasing an app that enables donors to recommend grants using an iPhone®, enhancing the Web site's charity search tool to make grant recommendations easier, and extending business hours to better accommodate donors and their advisors across the U.S.
Advisors Play Key Role in Planned Giving; Contributions of Complex Assets Triple
The majority of contributions continued to be influenced by donors' relationships with an advisor. Advisor referrals accounted for over 70% of contributions in 2012.
Complex assets, such as private business interests and other non-publicly traded assets, played an increasingly important role in donors' contributions. Contributions of complex assets more than tripled compared to 2011 and accounted for 11 percent of contributions. Appreciated securities once again accounted for the majority of contributions, as 54 percent of contributions came in this form.
"Committed donors are becoming more resourceful in how they fund their giving and the charitable causes they support benefit," said Libbey. "By leveraging their most appreciated assets and the tax advantages associated with donating them to charity, donors can often give more."
About Fidelity Charitable
Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 160,000 nonprofit organizations with over $14 billion in grants. Established in 1991, Fidelity Charitable launched the first national donor-advised fund program. The mission of the organization is to further the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving simple and effective. For more information about Fidelity Charitable, visit http://www.fidelitycharitable.org.
© 2013 Trustees of Fidelity Charitable. All rights reserved.