Boston-based Fidelity Charitable has announced that its donor-advised funds awarded a record $5.2 billion in grants in 2018, an increase of 17 percent on a year-over-year basis.
According to the organization's 2019 Giving Report (20 pages, PDF), donors recommended nearly 1.3 million grants to 142,000 charities in 2018, up from 840,000 grants to 120,000 charities in 2017. The report also notes that between 2009 and 2018, the number of Fidelity Charitable DAF accounts increased nearly 150 percent, from 51,918 to 123,114; that total grant dollars awarded increased nearly five-fold, from $1.1 billion ten years ago; and that the average number of grants recommended per account nearly doubled, from 5.8 to 10.4.
Many donors accelerated their contributions to their donor-advised funds in 2018 in response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed in December 2017, the report notes, with publicly traded securities (47 percent) and non-publicly traded assets (16 percent) such as private stock, real estate, and cryptocurrency comprising almost two-thirds (63 percent) of the contributions in 2018.
While there was little change in the top ten charities receiving support from the largest number of accounts, the number of grants awarded in support of impact investments rose 10 percent in 2018, to 4,458, totaling a record $22.1 million, up 86 percent from the $11.9 million recorded in 2013. Total charitable dollars allocated from Fidelity Charitable accounts to impact investment funds also increased, up some 16 percent, to nearly $1 billion.
"Last year we witnessed the enduring generosity of our donors, who demonstrated their commitment to philanthropy and used their donor-advised funds to provide more support than ever for thousands of charities despite the uncertainty around tax reform and extreme market volatility during giving season," said Fidelity Charitable president Pamela Norley. "One of the inherent strengths of donor-advised funds is that they enable sustained philanthropy regardless of the market environment."