Fidelity DAF donors eclipse $100 million in grants, aim for another $100 million

More than $100 million in grants to more than 4,500 nonprofits have been recommended from donor-advised fund (DAF) accounts in Fidelity Charitable in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) since tracking began last month. In March, total grant volumes increased 36 percent from the prior year, with 136,000 grants recommended. By comparison, Fidelity account holders granted $60 million in response to seven natural disasters in 2017.

The Boston-based DAF is challenging account holders to recommend another $100 million in grants leading up to #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity set for May 5.

One quarter of donors plan to increase their donations in response to COVID-19 and more than half (54 percent) plan to maintain giving levels, according to a recent survey of almost 2,000 adults by Fidelity Charitable. Millennials appear most likely to step up donations, with 46 percent of them saying they will give more compared to 25 percent of Generation X and 14 percent of Baby Boomers.

Volunteering might be most severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, according to the study. Less than half (47 percent) of recent volunteers believe the amount of time they volunteer will decrease or stop entirely because of the pandemic. Older donors are more likely to say their volunteering will decrease, with 61 percent of Silent Generation and 57 percent of Baby Boomers, compared to 41 percent of Gen-X and 37 percent of Millennials.

Of the more than 300 nonprofit employees in the survey, 95 percent said that COVID-19 had impacted their ability to deliver in programming (82 percent), fundraising (79 percent), or engaging in volunteer services and programs (79 percent). More than three-quarters said the impact is “severe” in at least one of those three areas. 

Donors are most concerned about the way that COVID-19 could impact the ability of medical research or health- (77 percent) and human services-related nonprofits (83 percent) to do their work, as well as small or community-based nonprofits generally (82 percent), but concern is high for organizations in all charitable sectors.

About one-third of respondents (32 percent) said they don’t have the information they need to understand where they can direct their support effectively.

The online survey was conducted March 18-30 among a national cross-section of 1,842 adults in the U.S. who donated at least $1,000 in 2019. There were 303 respondents currently employed by a nonprofit and answered additional questions about the impact of COVID-19 to their nonprofit employer.