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Fidelity, Schwab: Donors Felt Extra Generous in 2014

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Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable, the country’s two largest donor-advised-fund sponsors, have reported big increases in grant making in 2014 over the year before.

In a statement released Monday, Fidelity Charitable said it had made some 620,000 donor-recommended grants in 2014 totaling nearly $2.6 billion, a 24% increase from 2013.

The average grant size increased slightly from 2013 to $4,100. DAF account holders recommended 277 grants of $1 million or more totaling $612 million, an 18% year-over-year increase in mega grants.

Fidelity said donors used their DAFs to support planned giving and urgent needs, notably Ebola relief for which they recommended $5.5 million through more than 1,000 grants.

Schwab Charitable last week reported $928 million in grants on behalf of its donors, a 25% increase over 2013.

It said some 48,000 charities benefited from the gifts, with the largest number of individual grants going to health and human services, religious causes and education.

Among the most widely supported charities by Schwab account holders in 2014 were Doctors Without Borders, Wounded Warrior Project, The Salvation Army, and local public radio and television stations.

Schwab said 71% of contributions into DAF accounts last year were appreciated investments or assets, such as public company stock, real estate or private business interests.

Volunteerism Spikes

In its report, Fidelity Charitable said a recent survey had shown that its DAF account holders were highly committed to donating time, with 79% having volunteered in the past year and 67% of volunteers committing more than 50 hours to their favorite charities.

The study found that 84% of more than 350 donors surveyed planned to maintain or increase their volunteer hours.

This could be a boon for charities that rely on volunteers’ time and expertise in addition to their donations to help fulfill their mission.

Half of volunteers surveyed said they had been inspired to give more because they volunteered their time, and two out of five said they had donated their time to a charity before making a financial gift.

Donors near retirement age were the most active volunteers. Fifty-four percent said they had given more than 100 hours in the past year, and 82% planned to maintain or increase their volunteer hours.

Fidelity said the study data suggested that donors in this age group were seeking opportunities to continue using their expertise in different ways as they wound down their careers.

Sixty-five percent of donors near retirement age reported a strong interest in volunteer opportunities that required a specific skill set, and 41% of pre-retirees were likely to donate professional services.

Eighty-nine percent of donors 50 years old or younger reported that they had volunteered, but only 25% had committed more than 100 hours. However, 43% said they planned to increase their volunteering in the next few years.

Fidelity said this indicated younger donors were balancing their significant interest in giving back with commitments to other important priorities, such as starting or raising a family.

Indeed, a third of younger donors were inclined to seek opportunities to volunteer together with their families.

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