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BOSTON, Feb. 1, 2017 – Fidelity Charitable®, an independent public charity, today announced it made a record $3.5 billion in grants on behalf of its donors in 2016, a 15% increase over 2015. To commemorate its 25th anniversary, Fidelity Charitable challenged donors to recommend a cumulative $25 billion in grants by the end of 2016. With the record grant-making, the organization’s donors met the challenge and surpassed the goal on December 16th.
When breaking down the donations that Fidelity Charitable donors recommend, the numbers can be overwhelming—well over three-quarters of a million individual grants made to over 110,000 charities with $3.5 billion in total grants, all in 12 months. In the spirit of the work of Fidelity Charitable to democratize giving, working to empower more Americans to give more to the causes they care about, the organization recognizes that there is a story behind each and every grant.
One such story is the support Dan and Jill Francis have given to 743 children whose lives have been forever changed in Southeastern Michigan. Seeing a lack of access to preschool during the critical early childhood years, the couple chose to do something about it. After starting and funding other education initiatives with their donor-advised fund, they sought to continue to support early learning in Southeastern Michigan during their retirement through an impactful, recurring engagement with a local charity.
They chose Child Care Network (CCN)—a local nonprofit that provides preschool scholarships for lower income families suffering from homelessness or other life crises—and expressed to them their intention to recommend an annual grant of $100,000, supporting the expansion of the nonprofit’s footprint to two additional counties. Because of the unique benefits of giving with a donor-advised fund, Dan and Jill Francis were able to provide access to education to 79 more children than they could have otherwise.
"We were both raised that you have an obligation to help people that don’t have your resources. Giving to a donor-advised fund really suited our style because we could put the money in and still be studying how and where we wanted to give. Because that was most important to us, to give in a way that would be effective and efficient," said Dan Francis, Child Care Network supporter.
While several factors fuelled increased grant recommendations at Fidelity Charitable in 2016, the key drivers included:
Fidelity Charitable provides a detailed breakdown of its donors’ habits as part of its annual Giving Report, currently slated to be released in June.
"The dedication to giving with impact and the variety of causes our donors support is a constant source of inspiration for me and everyone at Fidelity Charitable. Our donors’ generosity helps millions of Americans every year, and we are privileged to help them give back to local, national and global communities," said Pamela Norley, president, Fidelity Charitable.
"Reaching this milestone of $25 billion in 25 years is the latest reminder of Fidelity Charitable’s responsibility to continually improve our support to our donors who seek to do good."
Fidelity Charitable spent 2016 making improvements in programs, IT infrastructure, and interface for both donors and financial advisors to make charitable giving easier and more effective.
To support strategic giving and as part of a broader expansion in November 2015, Fidelity Charitable began accepting bitcoin, resulting in an unprecedented $7 million in contributions in 2016 made from donors across the country. These donors were able to maximize their contributions with Fidelity Charitable efficiently monetizing the bitcoin for grant-making.
The charity also launched its Charitable Planning Practice Management program, building on years of experience counselling advisors on how to incorporate charitable planning into a holistic wealth offering. The program seeks to help advisors better understand and more closely align with their clients’ giving goals, a significant client need that also helps bring charitable giving to the forefront of clients’ financial plans.
To support ease and simplicity in recommending grants, Fidelity Charitable also made investments in its technology infrastructure, creating a more seamless experience for donors while also ensuring granting is compliant and recipients are IRS-qualified charitable organizations.
Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 219,000 nonprofit organizations with more than $25 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, effective, and accessible. For more information about Fidelity Charitable, visit https://www.fidelitycharitable.org.