Geography matters in many dimensions.
A new report from Fidelity Charitable, a donor-advised-fund sponsor, shows that donor support often has a geographic identity as well.
Fidelity’s annual charitable giving report, released Wednesday, includes a supplement that ranks 30 metropolitan areas, showing that local needs and interests often drive donor grant recommendations.
Whereas education and religion are consistently the top sectors for donor contributions nationally, Fidelity’s breakdown gives a more nuanced picture. For example, education is favored by donors on the East and West coasts, while donors in the West, South and Midwest focus on religion.
In addition, highly ranked cities vary in size. New York and San Francisco are elbow-to-elbow in the rankings with St. Louis and Detroit.
“We live in a very large and diverse country and it perhaps is no surprise that we see similar diversity reflected in how people from various cities choose to make an impact with their charitable contributions,” Fidelity Charitable president Amy Danforth said in a statement.
A Look at 2015
Fidelity Charitable, citing Foundation Center data, reported that its grant-making is currently second only to that of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In 2015, some 132,000 Fidelity DAF account holders recommended $3.1 billion in grants to support more than 106,000 organizations in every state and around the globe. This compared with $3.4 billion in grants given by the Gates Foundation.
The average number of grants per giving account each year has nearly doubled in the past 10 years to 9.2 grants per account.
The report said nearly a quarter of grant recommendations were now scheduled in advance, which means donors were planning ahead for their giving.
Last year, Fidelity made 329 donor-recommended grants of $1 million or more, a 27% increase over 2014.
Fidelity Charitable donors were three times likelier than affluent donors nationally to give using appreciated assets. In 2015, two-thirds of contribution dollars were noncash assets, such as stocks and real estate, an 18% increase from the previous year.
Donors’ grant recommendations in 2015 were strongly influenced by news-driven giving and group giving activities, according to the report.
UNICEF and OXFAM experienced increases of 38% and 35% in the number of donors supporting them, driven by coverage of the Nepal earthquakes and the Syrian refugee crisis.
Group-participation activities, such as charitable walks and runs, also influenced movement among the top charities. Significant giving to the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s helped increase donations to The Alzheimer’s Association by 39%.
The report noted that 82% ofFidelity Charitable donors involved other household members in their giving decisions, compared with 53% of donors nationally.
Metro Area Rankings
Following is a quick look at eight philanthropic sectors and the top five metro areas whose donors made them a priority in 2015.
The rankings were generated from a list of Fidelity Charitable’s top 30 metropolitan areas, by number of giving accounts whose primary account holder’s address was in the area. These areas aligned with U.S. Census metropolitan statistical areas, Fidelity said:
Education (including universities, libraries and literacy programs)
3. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island
4. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont
Arts & Culture (including museums, historical societies and public broadcasting services)
1. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont
4. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island
Environment & Animals (including conservation organizations, zoos and animal shelters)
1. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont