Fidelity Charitable announced Wednesday that its donor-advised-fund account holders recommended 1 million grants totalling $4.5 billion to some 127,000 charities in 2017.
In recent years, DAFs have become donors’ vehicle of choice for charitable giving.
“We are now at an inflection point in philanthropy, as DAFs have become more popular over the years with Americans looking at how to best impact the causes they care about the most,” Pamela Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable, said in a statement. “Donor-advised funds allow givers to take a more strategic look at how they give, while also facilitating in-the-moment granting.”
According to Fidelity Charitable’s 2018 giving report, strong markets and tax reform help explain why DAF giving was so robust last year.
Another big driver of charitable giving was the appreciation of noncash assets such as restricted stock and limited partnership interests. Fidelity Charitable helped donors convert a record $916 million of nonpublicly traded assets into committed funds for charity.
These included $69 million in donations of cryptocurrency, a nearly 10-fold increase from 2016.
The giving report noted that in 2017, 30,000 new donors opened more than 21,000 giving accounts, an 83% year-over-year increase. These donors represented varied levels of wealth; 56% of account balances were below $25,000.
According to the report, account holders recommended 505 grants of $1 million or more, a 25% increase from 2016.
The giving report analysis showed an upward trajectory of charities specifically focused on targeted issues, such as civil liberties and the environment.
Disaster relief was a major theme in donor support last year, supported by one in 10 giving accounts. In total, Fidelity Charitable gave nearly $60 million for disaster relief causes over 21,000 donor-recommended grants.