Fidelity Charitable Expects Strongest Level of Giving in 20-Year History

Fidelity Charitable Expects Strongest Level of Giving in 20-Year History

Continuing the strong pace it has experienced thus far in 2011, Fidelity Charitable reported yesterday that it expects to see its strongest year ever in outgoing grants to charities and incoming contributions. For the first nine months of 2011, Fidelity Charitable donors recommended $832 million in grants to nonprofits nationwide, a 12% increase over the first nine months of 2010. Incoming contributions to Fidelity Charitable were up 23 percent compared with the same period in 2010, resulting in $748 million in new charitable dollars.

Donations of appreciated securities as well as privately held stock, or complex assets, have been an increasing trend this year. Donations in the form of appreciated securities were 56 percent of overall contributions for the first nine months of the year, up from 51 percent during the same period in 2010. Complex asset donations were five times higher year-to-date through September 30th than they were during the same period in 2010.

Separately, a new report of American donors [issued by Fidelity Charitable] indicates that despite continued economic challenges, donors surveyed this month say they remain committed to charitable giving, planning ahead for it and giving even where there is no expectation or incentive to do so. In addition, the majority of American donors (72 percent) plan to maintain or increase their level of charitable giving this year compared to last year. This number is up from 63 percent in 2010.

In the survey of 502 American donors, which explores behaviors and motivations around charitable giving, 72 percent of respondents report that most or all of their giving is planned ahead of time and that more than half (58 percent) of their giving goes to organizations where they do not have an obligation to give, with 42 percent being given at the request of a friend or family member, or where there is an expectation to give.

Two-thirds of donors (64 percent) also agree that charitable tax deductions have no impact on their giving.

In addition to asking respondents about their own behaviors, the Fidelity Charitable survey explores American donor opinion on the impact a limited charitable tax deduction would have on overall giving. The findings showed that, despite their own stated commitment to giving, two in three (69 percent) respondents at least somewhat agreed that if the charitable tax deduction was limited for households in the highest income bracket, it would negatively impact overall giving in the United States.

Social Media and Technology Facilitating Charitable Engagement

A separate part of the survey asks respondents where they go to find information on charitable organizations, and how they are making donations this year. The findings show that social media and technology are facilitating charitable engagement and giving, yet in-person charitable events still play a key role in attracting support.

Forty-two percent of respondents report they use online resources to find information about charitable organizations, citing Internet search engines (31 percent) and social media sites (20 percent) as their top online resources.

Of those using social media sites for charitable giving, nearly nine out of 10 (over 85 percent) cite promoting or communicating about causes they care about, or supporting the causes of friends and family as top activities. Forty-four percent report using social media sites to make donations online.

Of all donors surveyed, 40 percent report they are using some form of technology to make charitable donations this year. One quarter say they are giving through an organization’s website; twenty-one percent report giving through a personal fundraising web page established by a friend or family member; and one in ten cite using “text to give” campaigns, among other vehicles.

While American donors may be turning to technology and the Internet more, half (51 percent) of those surveyed say they will make donations this year by attending, donating to and/or purchasing items at a charitable event.

“Technology and social media are fast becoming a way for donors to connect with and support others, as well as support their own causes. These are powerful mediums and present great opportunity for charities, many of whom are already finding donors online,” said Sarah Libbey, president of Fidelity Charitable. “Our findings also show, however, that the traditional in-person event still holds value. Charities that combine the use of technology with the face-to-face event strategies are likely to find themselves at an advantage.”