Impact from Fidelity Charitable donor-advised funds exceeds $7 billion in 2019, over 500 percent increase from 2010

Over 155,000 charities benefited from 2019’s unprecedented level of granting

Millennials grew as a force in philanthropy, representing 13 percent of new Giving Accounts in 2019

Donors demonstrated enduring generosity through a decade marked by disasters and market growth

BOSTON, MA, February 11, 2020 Fidelity Charitable donors recommended an unprecedented $7.3 billion in grants from their donor-advised fund accounts in 2019, according to a report released today. This far exceeds even the previous record of $5.2 billion set in 2018, underscoring the supercharged impact driven by use of donor-advised funds, the fastest-growing vehicle for giving in the U.S. Organizations working in veteran support, disaster relief, environmental protection and civil discourse saw increased support as these issue areas gained media prominence. The 2020 Giving Report provides key insights into the donors of Fidelity Charitable, the nation’s largest grantmaker. 

“The incredible impact that $7.3 billion will drive for nonprofits is a humbling reminder of the generosity of our donors,” said Pamela Norley, President of Fidelity Charitable. “When our donors make the decision to give through a donor-advised fund, they’re doing so to multiply the impact to charities they support and to dedicate dollars to making a difference in the lives of others.”

Donors give for a variety of reasons, but many are acutely personal. When Carole O’Hare’s mother lost her life in the 9/11 attacks on Flight 93, the grief motivated her to help others. In 2019, she focused her donor-advised fund grant recommendations on organizations like the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. “So many who joined the military after 9/11 lost their lives or have been left disabled,” O’Hare says. “I feel like the best way to honor my mom is to help veterans in any way I can.” 

For other donor-advised fund donors, giving back is simply about a sense of responsibility to use one’s gifts to help others. Debra Mailman, a former Microsoft employee, recently decided to sell her house, give away her furniture and put her car in storage. Her goal: use her Microsoft-honed organizational expertise to help relief groups deliver aid after natural disasters. In 2019 that meant dedicating time and resources on relief for victims of Hurricane Dorian. “I care about a lot of issues, so I’ve always had a hard time finding a focus—but now, my giving is focused on disaster relief and refugees,” Mailman says. “I know I will never be able to do everything, but that doesn’t mean I’m not obligated to do something.”

Additional highlights from the report

Growth in granting

  • Donor-recommended grants are expected to increase as the Fidelity Charitable community expands, but the increase in grant dollars in 2019 far outpaced growth in accounts and contributions.

In 2019, impact from Fidelity Charitable donor-advised funds exceeded $7 billion.

Trends in granting 

  • Donors are consistent and committed to their favorite charities: 74 percent of grants in 2019 went to a charity the donor had previously supported, demonstrating that strong relationships are often built between nonprofits and donor-advised fund donors. 

Nearly three out of four grants in 2019 went to charities our donors had previously supported.

  • 60 percent of grant recommendations were designated to be used “where needed most,” giving nonprofits the flexibility to apply these funds to their most mission-critical priorities. 
  • The most popular nonprofits in 2019 were: 

Doctors Without Borders USA was the most popular charity among Fidelity Charitable donors in 2019, followed by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and The Salvation Army.

Millennial donors

  • Millennial donors account for 13 percent of new Giving Accounts opened in 2019—more than double five years ago. A focus on social justice issues and civil liberties appears to be stronger among Millennial donors, with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Planned Parenthood and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services among the most popular charities. 

Driving more impact to charities 

  • Since inception, Giving Account investment growth has generated $10.8 billion in charitable dollars available for grants above and beyond the original donor contributions. 
  • While most charitable contributions in the United States are made in cash, checks or credit cards, more than 60 percent of Fidelity Charitable contributions in 2019 were made in the form of more strategic non-cash assets, including publicly traded securities (stocks, bonds and mutual funds), non-publicly traded assets (private stock, restricted stock and limited partnership interests), and cryptocurrency. 
  • Since inception, Fidelity Charitable has converted nearly $7 billion in non-publicly traded assets into dollars for charity. 

In 2019, 53 percent of contributions were in the form of publicly traded securities and 9 percent of contributions were in the form of non-publicly traded assets.

Impact investing 

Impact investing continues its rise in popularity as more donors seek to align their investment choices with their values. At Fidelity Charitable, Giving Account dollars allocated to impact investment funds surpassed $1 billion in 2019.

Donors are increasingly aligning their investment selections with their values. Giving Account assets in impact investment funds reached $1.1 billion in 2019

For the complete 2020 Fidelity Charitable Giving Report, visit: fidelitycharitable.org/2020GivingReport


About Fidelity Charitable

Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 300,000 nonprofit organizations with $42 billion in grants. Established in 1991, Fidelity Charitable launched the first national donor-advised fund program. The mission of the organization is to grow the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving accessible, simple and effective. For more information about Fidelity Charitable, visit https://www.fidelitycharitable.org

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