Donor-advised funds, whose popularity as charitable giving vehicles has surged in recent years, are on a roll. Fidelity Charitable, the largest provider of DAFs in the U.S., on Wednesday reported a record-breaking 30% increase in contributions for the first half of 2011.
The public charity, formerly known as the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, took in $512 million in new charitable dollars, up from $457 million in the same 2010 period. Outgoing grants set a first-half record as well, with more than 170,000 totaling $604 million going to nonprofit groups nationwide, increases of 12% and 14%, respectively, from the first six months of 2010.
“This is record-breaking activity for this time in the year, and it reinforces that donors are starting their charitable planning earlier, and that more are recognizing the benefits of donor-advised funds,” Sarah Libbey, president of Fidelity Charitable, said in a statement.
The total number of DAFs in the U.S. has grown by some 51% since 2005, the statement said, citing a report from National Philanthropic Trust. DAFs now outnumber private foundations by more than two to one.
The announcement said favorable market conditions in the first half encouraged donors to continue to leverage key assets in their financial portfolios to fund their Fidelity Charitable Giving Accounts.
- Appreciated securities comprised 59% of total contributions, up from 51% during the first six months of 2010.
- Contributions in the form of complex assets—illiquid securities, limited partnership interests and certain publicly traded stock—more than tripled in the first half, climbing to 8% of contribution dollars.
Fidelity Charitable’s 2011 fiscal year also showed robust donor activity. Incoming contributions during the fiscal year ended June 30 grew by 31% from fiscal year 2010, resulting in $1.7 billion in new charitable dollars. Donors recommended grants totaling more than $1.2 billion to nonprofits nationwide, up 15% from the prior fiscal year.
Fidelity Charitable ended its fiscal year with $5.6 billion in assets under management, an increase of 29% from fiscal year 2010.
The organization reported that since its inception, it has made some $11 billion in donor-recommended grants to more than 140,000 charitable organizations across the U.S.
Fidelity Charitable, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, said it would roll out its new name over the coming months. “Our new name and tagline—‘Make More of a Difference’— reflects our broader mission to be a resource for individuals, families and their advisors, and to help them give more by making giving simple and effective,” Libbey said.