Frequently Asked Questions
What is a donor-advised fund and how does it work?
A donor-advised fund program at a public charity allows individuals and organizations to make irrevocable contributions to the public charity, which are then allocated to a specific account — the individual "donor-advised fund" — from which the "donor-advisors" may then recommend grants to qualified charities.
When donors make contributions, they may in turn be eligible to take tax deductions. Account holders also receive and obtain certain privileges over the individual donor-advised fund, including the ability to recommend grants to IRS-qualified public charities.
Usually, donor-advisors can also recommend an investment strategy for their donor-advised fund from among available options, allowing the potential for contributions to grow and possibly result in larger charitable grants.
Is there a minimum account balance I must maintain?
There is no minimum balance that is required for a Giving Account.
How do I set up a Giving Account?
To set up a Giving Account, simply complete a Donor Application and submit it along with your contribution to Fidelity Charitable (minimum initial contribution of $5,000 for individual Giving Accounts and $25,000 for corporate Giving Accounts) in cash equivalents, securities, or select real estate. You can get started right now:
What should I read before setting up a Giving Account and making a charitable contribution?
Read the Fidelity Charitable Policy Guidelines. You will be required to agree to these policies upon signing the Donor Application.
Will my company match my gift that I recommend out of a Giving Account?
Check with your employer to ascertain its policy on making matching gifts to grants recommended from donor-advised funds.
Is Fidelity Charitable a nonprofit organization?
Fidelity Charitable is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization and public charity under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).
Where do staff salaries come from?
The administrative fee charged to all Giving Accounts goes toward operating expenses, which include staff salaries.
Do you have any statistics that show whether Fidelity Charitable is increasing the level of philanthropy in the U.S.?
While there is no way for us to track the amount that would have gone somewhere else had circumstances been different, we do know that as of December 31, 2014, Fidelity Charitable has helped donors grant more than $18 billion to more than 190,000 nonprofit organizations.
How do I make grant recommendations once my Giving Account is funded?
There are 4 options: You can recommend grants online when logged into your Account, on our iPhone app, over the phone with a representative or through a grant recommendation form.
What is Fidelity Charitable’s Tax Identification Number?
Fidelity Charitable's federal Tax Identification Number is: 110303001.
Where can I find Fidelity Charitable’s Form 990 and governing documents?
Fidelity Charitable’s Form 990 and Annual Reports are available on our About Us page.
What are some helpful hints to keep in mind when I’m making grant recommendations?
Submitting a grant recommendation to Fidelity Charitable is easy. However, despite the best of intentions, sometimes donors' grant recommendations are delayed or are not approved when it might not appear that they will be used exclusively for charitable purposes. If you keep the following things in mind, you can help minimize processing delays.
A grant must be recommended exclusively for charitable purposes. Among other things, this means that you cannot obtain a "more than incidental benefit".
- A grant cannot be recommended for admission to a charitable event if, in exchange for the grant, goods or services will be provided to you or anyone else.
- A grant cannot be recommended for a specified tuition payment or for a scholarship where the donor(s) or related parties have sole or majority discretion over the recipients.
- A grant cannot be recommended to satisfy a financial obligation of any individual or entity (including a legally enforceable pledge).
- A grant cannot be recommended to cover the cost of memberships where "more than incidental benefits" will be received.
If the purpose of the grant is unclear, Fidelity Charitable may contact you for clarification, which can increase the processing time of a grant.
You can help us expedite the grant process by:
- Clearly stating the grant's "special purpose," if any, and
- Complying with grant making policies
Be thoughtful when recommending the "use" for a grant
- The "use" instructs the charity how you would like them to use your recommended grant. This is critical because it affects whether or not we can approve a grant and how long it will take Fidelity Charitable to reach a decision.
- Selecting certain pre-designated uses can expedite our consideration of grants
- 'Where It Is Needed Most' — this gives charities the most flexibility and allows them to use the grant in the way that they see fit. This is the default for charities in your charity list
- Annual Fund
- Annual gift
- General Fund
- For the following uses, we will allow you to add additional information to
further customize your use designation for the charity recipient:
- In Memory of
- In Honor of
- Pledge (Non-Binding)
- Some uses require that Fidelity Charitable do additional research to ensure the
grant can be made from your Giving Account.
- Charity Event — Attending
- Charity Event — Not Attending
- Sponsor a friend (race, run, walk)
- If you create your own use, a Fidelity Charitable representative will review the purpose you provide, and we may have to call you or the charity to make a determination on the approval of the grant. This can significantly slow down the process. Including a contact name and phone number for the charity does help.
Be sure grant recommendations meet Fidelity Charitable policies
Complying with the following guidelines will help you support the charities that are important to you.
DO DON'T Charitable Galas and Fundraising Events
Recommend a grant to support the overall charitable event by indicating in the special purpose that:
You are not attending; or
If you plan to attend, you are paying the full ticket price of the cost (both tax-deductible and non tax-deductible portions) to attend the event separately out-of-pocket.
In either case, clearly state that you waive all benefits associated with the event.
Don't recommend a grant to be used toward a ticket to attend a gala or charitable event or to cover the tax deductible portion of a ticket to attend the event.
Don’t recommend a grant for your own fundraising commitment, such as a walk, bike ride, or run, unless the full obligation has already been satisfied.
Recommend a grant to cover the cost of membership to a charitable organization:
If the organization confirms that its membership fee is 100% tax-deductible and that membership benefits are not more than incidental; or
You indicate in the Special Purpose section that the membership level does not provide you with more than incidental benefits.
Don't recommend a grant if you will receive more than incidental benefits as part of membership or if the membership level has a non-tax deductible portion associated with it.
It is important to note:
If recommending a grant to a museum or athletic fund, some memberships may not be fully tax-deductible, even if more than incidental benefits are waived.
Some organizations may have specific membership levels which contain only incidental benefits (such as free or discounted parking, logo-bearing key chains, caps, T-shirts, or calendars of events) that are 100% tax-deductible.
Tell charities that you "intend to recommend a grant from your donor advised fund in the amount of [$]" so they know your grant recommendation is being made in response to a charitable organization's request for a pledge.
When submitting a grant recommendation online, once you ensure the charity does not consider your pledge to be legally binding, select "Payment of a non-legally binding commitment or pledge" from the grant purpose menu.
Don't recommend a grant to support an enforceable pledge because it creates a legally binding obligation or commitment that Fidelity Charitable can't fulfill.
An example includes a pledge to fund a new science center at a donor's alma mater. If the college is reliant on the donor to complete the project, but the donor does not provide the money, the college will hold the donor to his/her obligation and seek legal recourse for non-payment.
Recommend a grant for the purpose of supporting a scholarship program administered and overseen by the IRS-qualified public charity.
Don't recommend grants to support scholarships when:
You have sole or majority discretion regarding the recipient selection process; or
The grant recipient organization is not administering the scholarship program.
Grants will also not be made if:
- The grant will be used for lobbying, for political contributions, or to support political campaign activities.
- The grant will be used for other improper purposes.
- For other reasons, in accordance with Fidelity Charitable policies.
While every effort will be made to approve recommended grants, please be advised that our Trustees have the right to decline any grant request. For complete information on all grant making guidelines, please refer to the Fidelity Charitable Program Circular: Policy Guidelines.
Can I have the grant check sent to me so I can present it to the organization?
Fidelity Charitable only sends grant checks to the grant recipients.
You can always view a copy of the letter and check the organization will receive by logging in to your Giving Account and accessing the documents in Statements & Confirmations.
What is an IRS qualified public charity?
There are different kinds of 501(c)(3) organizations: public charities and private foundations. Fidelity Charitable can generally only make grants to public charities. Fidelity Charitable cannot support certain supporting organizations or most private foundations. An IRS qualified public charity is a charitable organization that has successfully filed an exemption application with the IRS for its public charity status or certain other organizations that the IRS considers to be "public charities," such as many religious organizations. This includes most organizations you might consider a charity, from national relief organizations to your alma mater to your local arts council. Fidelity Charitable maintains a database of these qualified charities that includes the most up to date information from the IRS.
If an organization is not currently listed in our database, that does not necessarily mean a grant cannot be made to the organization. However, it will require additional research.
Can I have a checkbook associated with this account?
No. Fidelity Charitable handles all check writing and grant processing. Additionally, all grant recommendations are subject to review and approval by the Trustees of Fidelity Charitable and therefore cannot be distributed by check on a real-time basis.
Grant recommendations can be made online at FidelityCharitable.org, through the iPhone app, by phone, or by submitting a Grant Recommendation Form.
Is there a minimum grant amount?
The Trustees have set a minimum grant amount of $50 on grants to maintain cost-effectiveness and to encourage charitable giving.
Can I make grant recommendations to foreign charities?
You have two options for using your Giving Account to support causes outside the U.S. You can recommend a grant to an American charity that works overseas, or you can recommend a grant to an American intermediary charity that will, in turn, make a grant to your preferred organization for an additional fee. We have identified a number of intermediary charities that specialize in various regions of the world, and they can help you support the causes you care about.
How are funds distributed to the charities?
We send the charity the grant either via check or Electronic Funds Transfer.
- Some charities have told us the addresses where they would like us to send checks and letters with grant details. We use this address to ensure faster processing of the grant.
- For all other charities, you can edit a charity's address by clicking the 'charity details' link on your charity list if you do not think we have the correct address on file. If you do provide us an updated address, we will contact the charity to confirm before sending a check. This might slow down the grant approval process.
- We will also research any returned checks to determine if there is a better address for the charity.
- Electronic Funds Transfer ("EFT"):
- For many charities, it is more efficient for the funds to be sent electronically. When charities enroll in the EFT program with Fidelity Charitable we do not need an address from you because the charity has given us bank account information. They have also provided us a way to send them grant details electronically.
These are examples of the letter we would send a charity with the grant. You can see how the use and acknowledgement you selected will be sent to the charity. If you need a copy of this letter sent to someone, call our service team and we can facilitate that for you. If a grant is sent via EFT, the charity will receive an email with this information.
Why do nonprofits continue to solicit me even though I've already recommended a grant to them from Fidelity Charitable?
When you recommend grants to a charity, you have three "acknowledgement options". The one you choose will appear on the letter sent by Fidelity Charitable that accompanies the grant check. The three options are:
- Name, address and Giving Account name
- Giving Account name only
- Remain anonymous
If you choose option one, some charities will take your name from this letter and add you to their mailing lists. One way to avoid this is to recommend grants anonymously. Anonymity options are available whether you recommend grants online, by phone, or on paper. You can also edit your personal information in your profile.
Where should I send my forms to be processed?
We have a processing center for overnight mail and general mail.
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund 100 Crosby Parkway Covington, KY 41015-9325.
General Mail Address:
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund & PIF PO Box 770001 Cincinnati, OH 45277-0053.
Can people who do not have a Fidelity Charitable Giving Account make contributions for the benefit of another person's Giving Account?
Anyone can make tax deductible charitable contributions to Fidelity Charitable, which can be allocated into a Giving Account. All contributions must meet the criteria outlined in the Fidelity Charitable Policy Guidelines.
Third-party contributors — people other than the Account Holder on a particular Giving Account — will have no privileges with respect to their contributions, such as recommending investment allocations and grants. Like Account Holders, third-party contributors also cannot receive anything in consideration of their contribution, under IRS rules and Fidelity Charitable policies.
Account Holders cannot solicit third-party contributions on behalf of a specific charitable organization or on behalf of Fidelity Charitable for their Giving Account, and cannot guarantee to contributors that intended grant recommendations will be approved.
Does Fidelity Charitable require specific contribution amounts?
After your initial contribution, there is no minimum contribution amount.
The minimum contribution for individuals to set up a Giving Account is $5,000. For corporations the minimum is $25,000.
What happens when Fidelity Charitable receives my contribution?
When a contribution is received and accepted, Fidelity Charitable will allocate the proceeds of the contribution to your Giving Account, and will purchase units of each investment pool recommended for the Giving Account. Units will be purchased on the business day (each day that the New York Stock Exchange is open for business) Fidelity Charitable receives cash or the proceeds from the sale of the contributed assets.
Once Fidelity Charitable accepts a charitable contribution, it is irrevocable and is owned and controlled by Fidelity Charitable's Board of Trustees, who are responsible for all aspects of Fidelity Charitable's operations. Fidelity Charitable's service provider typically trades assets in Fidelity Charitable's brokerage account(s) between 9:45am and 3:45pm ET, but not immediately after the market opens nor immediately before market close. This is due to Fidelity Charitable's concerns about volatility at the open and close of the market. Fidelity Charitable generally expects its service provider to place batch trades in 15 minute intervals, but does not require a guarantee from its service provider that every contributed security will be sold within 15 minutes after it is received.
What does "immediate tax deduction" mean?
Fidelity Charitable donors may be eligible to take an itemized deduction valued on the date their charitable contribution to Fidelity Charitable is made, subject to the general limitations described in "What are the limitations on charitable deductions?", below. Your deduction will depend, in part, on the type of asset that you contribute. Please check with your tax advisor. Deduction amounts follow:
- Check/wire/Electronic Funds Transfer: Your deduction is generally the amount of your cash contribution.
- Publicly traded securities: For publicly traded securities held for more than one year, your deduction generally will be the fair market value of the securities on the day of the contribution.
- Securities that are not publicly traded: For securities not publicly traded that have been held for more than one year, your deduction will be the fair market value determined by you in a reasonable manner on the date the contribution is made. The IRS will require you to obtain a qualified independent appraisal in certain circumstances
- Real Estate: For contributions of real estate, your deduction will be the fair market value determined by you in a reasonable manner on the date the contribution is made. The IRS will require you to obtain a qualified independent appraisal in certain circumstances.
The Fidelity Charitable Policy Guidelines are a good reference for tax questions. This section addresses only federal taxes. Rules and regulations regarding tax deductions for charitable giving vary at the state level. In addition, certain additional rules or limitations may apply with respect to your tax treatment depending on your specific circumstances. Please consult with your tax advisor.
What are the limitations on charitable deductions?
Under the Internal Revenue Code, deductions for charitable contributions are subject to certain "percentage limitations" that limit the deductions that can be taken to a stated percentage of adjusted gross income ("AGI") in the year the deduction is taken. (Contributions in excess of these percentage limitations may be carried forward up to five subsequent years.) Because Fidelity Charitable is a public charity, the percentage limitations that apply are generally the most favorable charitable deductions available under IRS rules.
- Deductions for contributions of long-term capital gain property (such as appreciated securities held for more than one year) are limited to 30% of AGI.
- Deductions for all other contributions (including contributions of cash) are limited to 50% of AGI.
Your ability to take itemized deductions may be subject to certain other limitations. Please contact your tax advisor to determine your tax deductibility limits.
What types of assets can I contribute to Fidelity Charitable?
Cash equivalents, publicly traded stock, mutual fund shares, bonds, certain private or restricted stock, bitcoin, and select real estate are eligible for contribution to Fidelity Charitable. We will be glad to discuss proposed contributions with you. Please contact us at 800.262.6039 for assistance.
What types of bank accounts are eligible for Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)?
For an individual Giving Account, Fidelity Charitable will accept contributions from your personal savings or checking accounts with any U.S. bank. Your Social Security Number should match the corresponding Social Security Number on your bank account.
For a Corporate Giving Account, Fidelity Charitable will accept contributions from a corporate account with any U.S. bank. The corporate bank account must be an account for which you are authorized to act on behalf of the corporate entity.
Is there a fee for EFT?
Fidelity Charitable does not charge a fee for using EFT; however, your bank may charge a fee.
Can I contribute privately held company stock to Fidelity Charitable?
Contributions of privately held company stock are reviewed and accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us at 800.262.6039 for assistance.
Can I contribute real estate to Fidelity Charitable?
Contributions of appreciated real estate are reviewed and accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us at 800.262.6039 for assistance.
Does Fidelity Charitable accept bitcoin as a contribution?
Yes. For all bitcoin inquiries, please contact us at 800.262.6039.
Would it be a wise estate planning idea to leave my IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account to Fidelity Charitable?
You should always check with your own tax advisor or trusts and estates attorney because individual situations vary substantially. It is generally permissible to leave your IRA or other tax-deferred account to charity. At your death, the full value of the account would be included in your estate, but since it is being donated to a charity, it would generally qualify for the unlimited charitable deduction.
With any employer-sponsored retirement plan (e.g., a 401(k)), there must be spousal consent to leave the balance of your retirement account to a charity. You also must bear in mind the minimum required distribution rules, the needs of your beneficiary, and your financial needs during your lifetime.
What about contributing from my retirement account now?
Again, it is important to speak with your tax advisor or attorney about your personal situation. In general, during your lifetime, whenever you take money out of your tax-deferred account (IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc.), the distribution is considered income to you and is a taxable event. Therefore, you would have to pay the taxes due upon the value of the distributed assets and the remaining money would go to the charitable organization.
However, there may be certain exceptions for "employer securities" (shares of an employer's stock, or "company stock") held in a 401(k) account. If you are interested in contributing this type of security, contact us at 800.262.6039 for assistance.
Can I give a variable annuity to Fidelity Charitable?
We can accept variable annuities that are nonqualified. However, most variable annuities are qualified, which means they are equal to pre-tax dollars. Therefore, the owner must create a taxable event (that is, sell the variable annuity) before donating the money.
At death, annuities bring up the same considerations as retirement plans, although there are no minimum required distribution rules to consider. (See previous two questions for more on contributing from a retirement account.) This is another instance in which it is important to consult with a tax advisor to evaluate your individual situation. This answer should not be construed as tax advice.
Where should I send my forms to be processed?
We have a processing center for general mail and overnight mail.
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund 100 Crosby Parkway Covington, KY 41015-9325.
General Mailing Address:
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund & PIF PO Box 770001 Cincinnati, OH 45277-0053.
What is the difference between the Fair Market Value (FMV) and the proceeds?
The FMV for publicly-traded securities is determined by multiplying the number of shares contributed by the average of the high and low prices for the day on which the shares are received. It is the figure that is used for tax deduction purposes. Theare what the securities are sold for, multiplied by the number of shares contributed, then subtracted by any commission (usually 1.2 cents per share). This is the amount that is deposited into the investment pools and is available for distribution. This is the procedure followed per IRS standard.
What are the stock delivery instructions?
For credit to: National Financial Services LLC
Account Number: Z97–000442
For benefit of: Fidelity Charitable Giving Account [number]
What are the year-end contribution deadlines?
- For Controlled or Restricted Stock, it is recommend to initiate on or before 11/11
- Mutual funds outside of Fidelity, it is recommended to initiate on or before 11/18
- Assets held outside of Fidelity, initiate on or before 12/2
- Assets held at Fidelity (contributed by mail), initiate on or before 12/9
- For Bitcoin, initiate on or before 12/19
- For Wire transfer, initiate on or before 12/27 (Any wires received before midnight on December 31 will be granted a received date of 2016.)
- For assets held at Fidelity, initiate on or before 12/31
- Physical stock certificates or checks must be postmarked on or before 12/31
- For ACH transfers, initiate on or before 12/31
How do the Fidelity Charitable Trustees choose the funds included in Fidelity Charitable pools?
The Fidelity Charitable Trustees have engaged Strategic Advisers, Inc. a Fidelity Investments company, to be the investment manager for Fidelity Charitable. The Trustees meet regularly with Strategic Advisers, Inc. to review the investment pools, and the underlying investment options, as well as the investment performance.
Do you offer any pools that draw exclusively on "socially-responsible" investments?
Yes, we offer an Impact Investing Pool, for donors who are interested in a socially-responsible investment strategy which seeks to consider both financial return and social good.
What is a Gift4Giving eGift?
A Gift4Giving eGift is a unique charitable gift that a Fidelity Charitable donor can send to a friend, family member or colleague, via email, which allows grant/gift recommendation privileges over a portion of his/her Giving Account. This is a great way to get others involved in charitable giving and to learn about donor-advised funds.
How does the program work?
After the donor requests a Gift4Giving eGift online from their Giving Account, the recipient then receives an email from Fidelity Charitable (with the name of the person who sent the Gift4Giving in the subject line of the email), containing a link to a web page that will give him/her the opportunity to recommend one or more gifts of $50 or more to support his/her favorite charities.
Are there any fees to send a Gift4Giving eGift?
There are no fees associated with sending a Gift4Giving eGift.
How do I know if the recipient has recommended gifts to charity from his/her Gift4Giving?
Transaction information — including when the Gift4Giving email notification was sent by Fidelity Charitable, been recommended to a charitable organization or whether it has expired — is viewable in your Gift4Giving History.
Does the Gift4Giving eGift expire?
A Gift4Giving eGift will expire 180 calendar days after the email is sent to the recipient. At expiration, Gift4Giving amounts that have not been recommended and granted to qualified public charities will be reallocated to the donor's Giving Account and will be invested according to the Giving Account's current allocation.
As a Gift4Giving recipient, what charities can I choose to support?
Gifts can be made to 501(c)(3) IRS-qualified public charities found in the Fidelity Charitable database of qualified gift recipient charities.
As a Gift4Giving recipient, do I receive a tax deduction when a gift is made by Fidelity Charitable to a public charity?
Gift4Giving recipients are not eligible for charitable deductions for these gifts, since the gift is made by Fidelity Charitable. Donors received a tax deduction at the time of their initial contribution to Fidelity Charitable.
What is the minimum and maximum Gift4Giving I can give?
You can choose any amount between $50 and $5,000 and there's never a fee.
What browsers work best with Fidelitycharitable.org?
Fidelity Charitable websites are best viewed using the most recent versions of these browsers. Get free upgrades here:
- Microsoft Internet Explorer (Windows 7 & 8 operating systems only)
- Google Chrome
- Mozilla Firefox
- Apple Safari (Mac operating systems only)
Note: Our latest site features will not work with older browser versions, specifically Internet Explorer 7, Safari 4 and 5, and Netscape. Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10 provide a less than optimal experience. Safari no longer supports upgrades for Windows operating systems. If you are using a Windows operating system, please use one of the supported browsers above, other than Apple Safari, for the best experience.
I am receiving an unsecure / untrusted website message, what is causing this? What should I do to resolve this?
Fidelity Charitable has updated the digital certificate we use to increase the level of security our website provides our donors. Browsers on older operating systems may not be compatible with this upgraded certificate.
The updated digital certificate is made by Entrust, a certificate provider that Fidelity Charitable uses for secure communications. Entrust is one of the industry standards.
This issue is best resolved by downloading the newest version of Entrust Root Certificate Authority and adding this trusted security provider to your computer. To do this, please follow these steps:
- Go to https://www.entrust.com/get-support/ssl-certificate-support/root-certificate-downloads/
- Midway through the page, click on "Download" from the section "Entrust Root Certificate Authority—G2"
- Close all browser windows and then restart the browser
What is the Fidelity Charitable iPhone App?
The Fidelity Charitable iPhone App makes supporting your favorite charities even easier. Once you have downloaded the app and logged in to your Giving Account®, you can recommend grants, check your balances, and view the status of grant recommendations and contributions — wherever you are.
How do I know if I have access to the app?
All Account Holders and authorized interested parties with full transactional access can use the iPhone App. Those with "view only" access, corporate/organization contacts, and advisors cannot log in at this time.
Is the app available on other smartphones?
No, the app is only available for the iPhone.
Can I view my entire transaction history in the app?
Currently, the app allows you to view two years (730 days) of your transaction history. Your entire history can be viewed by logging in to your Giving Account on FidelityCharitable.org.
I've been locked out of my Giving Account, what do I do?
If you enter your password incorrectly three times you will be automatically locked out of your Giving Account. You need to go to FidelityCharitable.org to reset your password.
When will I be able to make a contribution to Fidelity Charitable through the app?
We are currently working to make mobile charitable contributions available.
Can I recommend pool exchanges on the app?
No. However, once you've recommended a grant, you can log in to your Giving Account on FidelityCharitable.org or call a Fidelity Charitable representative at 800-262-6039 to recommend a pool exchange to rebalance your current allocation.