Contributions to Schwab Charitable donor-advised funds more than tripled during the second half of 2012 and the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund is expecting similar increases, say spokespersons for both funds.

The uncertain tax environment in 2012, particularly fears that the federal gift tax exdemption would be severely reduced at year's end, is credited with prompting the increased giving. The gift exemptions were left largely intact under a budget deal approved earlier this month.

Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, which  saw record contributions during 2011, said it expects 2012 figures to show similar growth rates when they are released next week.

Contributions to donor-advised funds for Schwab Charitable for July 1 to Dec. 31 (the first half of their fiscal year) amounted to $1.57 billion, compared to $502 million for the same period in 2011, Schwab announced yesterday. New accounts opened during that time increased from 1,080 in 2011 to 2,315.

Schwab approved 70 percent more grants from donor-advised funds for the fourth quarter of 2012 than for the same time period the year before, says Kim Laughton, president of Schwab Charitable, adding that granting activity is expected to continue because of the number of new accounts opened.

Fidelity contributions for 2011 to donor-advised funds more than doubled to $2.9 billion, up $1.6 billion, according to Kim Gagliardi of Fidelity Charitable.  Grants for the same time period were up 8 percent to $1.3 billion. Both were record highs for a year.

Contributions and grants for 2012 are expected to set new record highs as well when they are released next week,  says Gagliardi.