BOSTON--()--The Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund (“Gift Fund”), the nation’s largest donor-advised fund program, today announced the results of a national survey which found that the majority of American donors1 (55 percent) plan to maintain their level of charitable giving in the fourth quarter, despite the volatile market and economic environment. In addition, nearly one in 10 (8 percent) said they would give more than in past years because the need for help is more acute.
“Priorities and pocketbooks are stretched, while the call for charitable giving is greater than ever. Yet, it is clear that Americans are deeply committed to giving -- whether money or time -- to the causes they care about, and that this commitment endures through both good and challenging times.”
The last three months of the year, known in the philanthropy world as the “Giving Season,” are a critical fundraising period for many non-profit organizations.
While the majority of American donors will not change their habits this Giving Season, one-third (36 percent) indicated that they are giving less than in past years due to financial limitations (30 percent) or the uncertain tax climate (6 percent). Of those giving less, 88 percent say they are still making it a priority to give.
“There’s no denying that it’s been a challenging year for many Americans,” said Sarah C. Libbey, president of the Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund. “Priorities and pocketbooks are stretched, while the call for charitable giving is greater than ever. Yet, it is clear that Americans are deeply committed to giving -- whether money or time -- to the causes they care about, and that this commitment endures through both good and challenging times.”
Giving in Different Ways
According to the Gift Fund survey, the 36 percent of Americans who indicate they are giving less this year are split on how they are cutting back. Nearly half (48 percent) of this group say they are giving less to all their causes, while the other half (48 percent) indicate they will prioritize their giving, reducing or eliminating donations for some causes.
The survey also found that two-thirds (66 percent) of donors who are giving less this year are considering making other types of donations instead of cash. Nearly 60 percent say they would give their time and skills, and one-in-five (21 percent) indicate they will give other assets, such as cars or antiques.
“Many donors don’t realize that they can contribute -- and receive tax deductions for -- assets beyond cash, such as appreciated stock or non-publicly traded assets,” said Libbey. “Donations of this type can be one of the most effective and tax-efficient ways for Americans to sustain or grow their giving during challenging economic times, and donor-advised funds such as the Gift Fund, make this type of charitable giving simple and easy.”
For the first nine months of 2010, contributions to the Gift Fund in the form of appreciated securities represented 51 percent of total contributions. This compares to 39 percent during the same period last year. In addition, the Gift Fund continues to help donors and their advisors regarding contributions of non-publicly traded assets, such as privately-held C- and S-Corp stock, partnership interests and real estate.
The Gift Fund survey found that donors are forward-looking in terms of their giving, with two-thirds (66 percent) indicating that all or most of their charitable giving for this year was planned ahead of time. This increases to 81 percent among households with $100,000 or more in annual income.
Recent natural disasters such as the flood in Pakistan and the earthquake in Haiti had an impact on giving in 2010, with nearly one-quarter of Americans who said they gave reactively reporting that these events had changed their giving from years past.
Tax planning is often a consideration in charitable giving, yet the survey revealed that it was not an overriding factor for most American donors. According to the survey, receiving a tax deduction was a significant influence for just one-third (31 percent) of all donors and slightly higher (42 percent) for households with more than $100,000 in income. The likelihood of higher taxes next year did not weigh heavily on donors’ giving intentions, with almost nine-in-10 (88 percent) reporting that they wouldn’t change their giving behaviors based on tax increases.
Gift Fund Growth Continues to Advance Giving
Despite ongoing market volatility and economic uncertainty, American donors continue to give back, and donor-advised funds, like the Giving Account® offered through the Gift Fund, continue to play an important role in helping to make giving simple and effective.
Reinforcing the value donors see in donor-advised funds, the Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund today reported that its donors recommended more than 212,000 grants totaling over $741 million to nonprofits nationwide during the first nine months of 2010. This was up 22 percent and 13 percent, respectively, from the same period last year. It was the strongest first nine months for outgoing grants in the Gift Fund’s 19-year history. The Gift Fund also said that incoming charitable contributions reached nearly $610 million during the first nine months of the year, representing a 54 percent increase from the same period last year.
“It’s encouraging that despite an overall downturn in giving, we are seeing an uptick in strategic philanthropy through donor-advised funds,” said Libbey. “Dedicated Giving Accounts help donors to create long-range plans for supporting their favorite charitable causes.”
The Fidelity Giving Season study was conducted among a national probability sample of 603 adults (people 18 and older) who intend to donate $200 or more to charity in 2010. Interviews were completed by telephone September 17-20, 2010 by independent research firm, Opinion Research Corporation (ORC). ORC is not affiliated with Fidelity Investments. The results of this survey may not be representative of all persons meeting the same criteria as those surveyed for this study.
About the Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund
The Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund is an independent public charity, established in 1991, with the mission to further the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving simple and effective. Since its inception, the Gift Fund has helped donors support more than 136,000 nonprofit organizations with over $10 billion in grants. For more information, visit www.charitablegift.org.
The Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund (“Gift Fund”) is an independent public charity with a donor advised fund program. Various Fidelity companies provide investment management and administrative services to the Gift Fund. The Charitable Gift Fund logo is a service mark, and Giving Account is a registered service mark, of the Trustees of the Fidelity Investments® Charitable Gift Fund. Fidelity and Fidelity Investments are registered service marks of FMR LLC, used by the Gift Fund under license.
© 2010 Trustees of the Fidelity Investments® Charitable Gift Fund. All rights reserved.
1 Those who will donate $200 or more in 2010.