The Syrian refugee crisis and fund drives for medical research were two of the biggest things motivating charitable giving last year, according to the “2016 Fidelity Charitable Giving Report.”
Efforts that provide direct relief for emergency situations such as the one in Syria and the rebuilding efforts following the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal were among top receivers of charitable giving, says Fidelity. Reflecting this trend, UNICEF and Oxfam saw 38 percent and 35 percent increases, respectively, in the number of donors supporting them.
The Fidelity report analyzes the giving behavior of 132,000 donors at Fidelity Charitable, one of the largest donor-advised funds. The fund has distributed $22 billion to 106,000 nonprofits in its 25-year history. Money granted increased from $2.6 billion in 2014 to $3.1 billion in 2015, a 19 percent increase, Fidelity reports, and the number of grants made from each account nearly doubled in 10 years to 9.2 per account.
Social giving efforts, such as charity walks, also were keys in motivating donors to give last year, the report shows. Organizations that appeared to be particularly successful in galvanizing donors included several nonprofits focused on health care and medical research, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, which saw a 39 percent increase in grants, and the Pan-Mass Challenge, a Massachusetts-based bike-a-thon that raises money for cancer research, which saw a 26 percent increase in grants, Fidelity Charitable says.
The report also looks at the differences between those philanthropists using donor-advised funds and those who aren’t.
“Fidelity Charitable donors support an extraordinary range of organizations, with more than 106,000 nonprofits receiving grants last year,” says Amy Danforth, the fund’s president. “While most who give have organizations and causes that they support year-in and year-out, those who use donor-advised funds have a dedicated account for charitable giving, which enables them not only to provide ongoing support to their favorite charitable causes, but also to more easily and quickly respond to meet new needs as they emerge.”
People who use donor-advised funds give more to more charities than people who don’t use them, the report says. More than 70 percent of Fidelity Charitable donors give more than $10,000 per year, while only 42 percent of other donors give the same annual amount. Eighty-five percent of donor-advised fund donors support six or more charities, while only 36 percent of other donors do.
Eighty-two percent of Fidelity Charitable donors engage others in their households in their decision-making process, compared with 53 percent of donors who do not use donor-advised funds.
“The waves of baby boomers who will continue to retire over the coming decades are expected to be significant drivers of charitable giving,” Danforth says. “We know that many donors set up their accounts as a way to prepare to maintain or grow their giving in retirement.” Many have high confidence that they will be able to continue to support the charities at the same levels in the future, she adds.
Fidelity Charitable donors are more likely to contribute appreciated assets than other donors. Sixty percent of Fidelity Charitable donors contributed non-cash assets, such as long-term appreciated stocks and real estate, last year, while only 19 percent of donors across the nation have ever done so, Fidelity says.