A survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy finds that the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, created by Boston- based financial services giant Fidelity Investments in 1992, has become the second-largest public charity in the country, the New York Times reports.
The fund, which allows Fidelity customers who donate at least $10,000 to claim an immediate tax deduction and recommend which nonprofits receive their support, has grown rapidly in recent years, taking in $1.1 billion in 2000, nearly double the $573 million it collected in 1999. At its present rate of growth, the Gift Fund will surpass the Salvation Army sometime next year to become the largest public charity in the U.S.
"It's an astonishing rate of growth, and it raises some interesting questions," said Eugene Tempel, executive director of the University of Indiana's Center on Philanthropy. "On the negative side, it means that we have new intermediaries, that if the money goes through Fidelity, the donors and the not-for-profits are not interacting directly, so we lose that involvement. But on the positive side, it may extend philanthropy, bringing in people who would not have made gifts if it hadn't been suggested by a trusted financial adviser."