Fidelity Charitable Gifts Exceed $1 Billion

Grants by one of the nation’s largest donor-advised funds jumped almost 20 percent during the first half of this year, compared to the same period in 2013, while an increase in mergers and acquisitions activity helped to push a 33-percent spike in contributions.

Boston, Mass-based Fidelity Charitable announced today that distributed grants reached almost $1.1 billion, up from the previous record of $919 million in 2013. The size of grants ranged from $50 to millions, with an average of $4,300 among the more than 250,000 awards in all. There were 110 grants of $1 million or more, totaling $241 million.

Fidelity also announced results for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, distributing almost $2.3 billion – up 23 percent – with donors contributing $3.9 billion, an increase of 8 percent.

The number of new charitable accounts established at Fidelity rose 41 percent over the first half of 2013. Donors contributed nearly $1.2 billion, a 33-percent increase from the same period last year. The majority of contributions were in the form of appreciated assets. Donations of securities account for 48 percent of contributions. Complex assets, such as private business interests and other non-publicly traded assets, accounted for 9 percent of contributions. In the first half of this year, contributions of complex assets more than doubled, compared to the same period in 2013, to more than $100 million.

“We hear from our donors that they are feeling more confident as the economy continues to recover, and are reflecting that optimism in their charitable giving,” Fidelity Charitable President Amy Danforth said. “Donors are focused on maximizing efficiency and impact; and that starts with how they fund their philanthropy. Donating private business interests can be a powerful way to give, conferring tax efficiencies that enable donors to give over 20 percent more to their charitable causes in some cases,” she said.

The increase in donated complex assets was driven by entrepreneurial Baby Boomers selling their companies to retire, and a rise in merger and acquisitions deals that has more entrepreneurs and investors experiencing wealth events that can be significant, according to Fidelity. The organization cited data from Mergermarket that estimated the value of mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. was up 98 percent, to $695 billion, over the same period last year.

The announcement comes a day after San Francisco, Calif.-based Schwab Charitable announced that its grants were up 38 percent, to $822 million, for the fiscal year ending June 30, with a 17-percent increase in the number of accounts.