Boston-based Fidelity Charitable has announced that its donor-advised funds awarded a record $4.5 billion in grants to nearly a hundred and twenty-seven thousand charities in 2017.
According to the public charity's 2018 Giving Report (20 pages, PDF), the number of donor-recommended grants awarded in 2017 surpassed a million, up from 840,000 in 2016. The organization attributes the growth to donors' eagerness to respond to several major disasters, strong financial market returns, impending tax reform, and the growing popularity of donor-advised funds as a vehicle for charitable giving. The appreciation of non-cash assets such as bitcoin was also a significant driver of giving, with the fund receiving nearly $70 million in contributions of cryptocurrency — ten times the amount contributed in 2016.
The report further notes that in 2017 Fidelity acquired thirty thousand new donors affiliated with more than twenty-one thousand giving accounts, a year-over-year increase of 83 percent, and that 56 percent of the new accounts had balances of less than $25,000.
"We are now at an inflection point in philanthropy, as donor-advised funds have become more popular over the years with Americans looking at how to best impact the causes they care about the most,” said Pamela Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable. "Donor-advised funds allow givers to take a more strategic look at how they give, while also facilitating in-the-moment granting. Fidelity Charitable is proud to be a part of that movement."