Fidelity Charitable, the nation's largest donor-advised fund program, has announced that both incoming contributions and grants awarded reached record levels in 2012.
Incoming contributions rose for the fourth consecutive year, to $3.6 billion, up 24 percent from $2.9 billion in 2011. In addition, the fund awarded more than 428,000 grants totaling $1.6 billion, up 13 percent and 24 percent, respectively, and the third consecutive year of increases in both categories. The average grant rose to $3,773, a 10 percent increase, while the number of charitable accounts opened during the year rose 32 percent on a year-over-year basis.
The fund also reported that contributions of complex assets such as private business interests and other non-publicly traded assets more than tripled on a year-over-year basis, to 11 percent of total contributions. Appreciated securities continued to account for the majority of contributions, comprising 54 percent of total contributions. "Committed donors are becoming more resourceful in how they fund their giving and the charitable causes they support benefit," said Fidelity Charitable president Sarah Libbey. "By leveraging their most appreciated assets and the tax advantages associated with donating them to charity, donors can often give more."
The fourth quarter, which is generally the strongest for both contributions and grants, saw contributions totaling $2.4 billion — or 66 percent of the total for the year, slightly above the 60 percent that the fourth quarter typically attracts — and more than 172,000 grants totaling $657 million recommended. "Throughout 2012, donors took advantage of the improved stock market and economic conditions to contribute more to their charitable accounts and in turn better support the causes they care about," said Libby. "We also saw many donors discover the benefits of using a donor-advised fund for the first time as the uncertain tax environment prompted more discussions about philanthropy between advisors and clients."