Fidelity Charitable Hits Early $1-Billion Grant Mark

Fidelity Charitable needed less than two and a half months to reach the $1-billion grantmaking mark this year. The Boston, Mass-based independent charity hit the $1-billion figure with grants from donor-advised fund (DAF) accounts on March 13, according to Nabil Ashour, a Fidelity Charitable spokesperson.

It took the charity until mid-April to get to $1 billion in grants in 2017 and, as of March 13, grantmaking was increasing at a 42-percent pace as compared to 2017, which ended with $4.5 billion in donor-recommended grants.

“Donor-advised funds allow donors to plan strategically and efficiently create the greatest impact for the causes they care most about. This milestone illustrates that Americans are increasingly aware of the vehicle’s benefits to support those causes,” said Elaine Martyn, vice president and managing director, Private Donor Group for Fidelity Charitable.

A total of 62,000 charities have thus far received grants, many of them in the religious, education, and human services subsectors. The 221,000 total number of grants through March 13 represents a 25-percent increase compared to 2017 and divides out to an average grant total of about $4,500.  Ashour said that year-to-year information on average grant size is not available, nor are early contribution figures for donor’s DAF accounts.

The average grant size appears to be on par with 2017, in which the $4.5 billion distributed was split among over 1 million gifts.

“One thing that is interesting is that a lot of people do their charitable thinking later in the year,” said Ashour “The fact that [$1 billion in grants] is this early is notable — that’s, in part, what makes this interesting.”

The news comes one month after the release of Fidelity Charitable’s 2018 Giving Report, which tabbed 2017 grantmaking of $4.5 billion through more than a 1 million gifts as increases of 25 and 27 percent, respectively, as compared to 2016. The charity also reported $8.5 in unaudited contributions during calendar year 2017 (Fidelity Charitable’s fiscal year ends on June 30), a 29-percent increase over 2016’s $6.6 billion. Of that sum, $916 million were from non-publicly traded assets, including $69 million from cryptocurrency.

Past year-to-year grant payouts from Fidelity Charitable include $3.5 billion in 2016, $3.1 billion in 2015, and $2.6 billion in 2014, according to previous giving reports. A total of $30 billion in donor-recommended grants have been made since Fidelity Charitable’s inception in 1991.