BOSTON – The Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, an independent public charity with a donor-advised fund program, saw record grants and contributions in 2012, the organization announced Tuesday.
During the year, grants and incoming contributions rose for the third and fourth consecutive year, respectively, according to the organization.
Donors recommended more than 428,000 grants totaling $1.6 billion during the year and contributed $3.6 billion to Fidelity Charitable for their charitable accounts.
According to the organization, the dollar amounts both represent a 24 percent increase when compared with 2011, as the number of new charitable accounts opened rose 32 percent compared with 2011.
“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,” Sarah Libbey, president of Fidelity Charitable, said in prepared remarks. “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 advisers and clients.”
During the fourth quarter, which the organization said is generally the strongest for grants and contributions, donors recommended more than 172,000 grants totaling $657 million. During the quarter, donors contributed $2.4 billion, 66 percent of the annual total.
Fidelity Charitable’s release said that the more than 428,000 grants to nonprofits made in 2012 represented a 13 percent increase from 2011. The average grant size rose to $3,773, a 10 percent increase from 2011.
During the year, donors recommended grants to charities in all 50 states, with religion, human services and education as the top three sectors.
According to a release, the organization said it made “several enhancements to improve donors’ experience with grants,” including developing an iPhone app, revamping the organization’s website search tool and extending business hours.
During 2012, the majority of contributions were influenced by donors’ relationships with an adviser, according to the organization, which said that adviser referrals accounted for more than 70 percent of the year’s contributions.
Contributions of complex assets – such as private business interests and other non-public traded assets – tripled compared to 2011 and accounted for 11 percent of the year’s total contributions.
“Committed donors are becoming more resourceful in how they fund their giving and the charitable causes they support benefit,” said Libbey. “By leveraging their most appreciated assets and the tax advantages associated with donating them to charity, donors can often give more.”