Fidelity Charitable survey shows giving brings couples together, highlights importance of discussing values

Eight in 10 couples who donate to charity make giving decisions together; most couples agree on which charities to support and how much to give; tips on how couples can come together on giving

BOSTON, February 13, 2017 – Couples may want to add charitable giving to their "must dos" this Valentine’s Day.

Giving and togetherness go hand in hand, according to a new Fidelity Charitable survey of donors who are married or live with a partner, which found that not only do 81 percent of donors make giving decisions as a couple, they also overwhelmingly agree on those decisions.

Fidelity Charitable’s report, "How Couples Give," found that the majority of couples agree on which charities to support and how much to give. In fact, on average, only 11 percent say that, at times, they disagree on those decisions. The majority equally support organizations that are important to each spouse or partner.

"This new report confirms what our donors already know: giving brings couples and families together,” says Elaine Martyn, vice president of the Private Donor Group at Fidelity Charitable, a program designed to help donors develop strategic approaches to giving. “Philanthropy brings out the best in people, and learning what is important to your partner and supporting them brings out the best in you—all while helping a good cause."

Interestingly, while couples feel that they are in agreement about giving, when they sit down to discuss it, there can be gaps. Only half the donors surveyed say they discuss an overall charitable budget for the year, and less than one-third discuss what assets to contribute. Men and women also hold differing opinions about who takes the lead role in giving decisions and how equally they share in the decisions made with their spouses or partners.

"Couples tend to think they are on the same page when it comes to giving, but when talking to donors, we’ve found that there is always room for better communication," says Martyn. "A conversation about charitable giving is a real opportunity to reaffirm the values you share as a couple."

A few ways to get closer together about choosing how to give as a couple include:

  • Make a giving budget – Making charitable decisions is an important part of your financial life and should be integrated into your plans for the future.
  • Make your giving decisions together – How you and your partner choose to give will probably change over time. That’s why it’s important to discuss not only what causes you want to support, but also when and how much to give.
  • Make a gift of giving – Flowers and chocolate are time-honored expressions of love, but reminding your partner that you share the same values, by volunteering together or making a gift to your partner’s favorite charity, can also be a powerful way to reinforce togetherness.

The complete "How Couples Give" study (PDF).

To learn about more ways that couples at Fidelity Charitable give, read the article, "Is giving together the secret to happiness?".

Key highlights from the report include:

  • 81 percent of couples say they make giving decisions together
  • 11 percent of couples, on average, disagree on which charities to support or how much and which assets to give to charity
  • 52 percent of couples discuss an overall charitable budget for the year
  • 31 percent of couples discuss what assets to contribute
  • 76 percent of couples discuss which charitable organizations to support
  • 70 percent of couples discuss how much to give to specific charitable organizations

About survey methodology

The Fidelity Charitable Couples Giving report is based on a survey conducted in 2016 of 694 married or partnered Fidelity Charitable donors. Throughout the report, "donors" refers to either the primary or secondary donor connected to the Giving Account. All Giving Accounts have one person designated as the primary Account Holder (or in the case of Organizational accounts, the primary Organization contact), although each Giving Account may have more than one Account Holder (i.e., person with advisory privileges, including the ability to recommend grants) associated with it.

About Fidelity Charitable

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

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