Fidelity Charitable Donors Grant a Record $10 Billion in 2021—a 41% Increase From Pre-Pandemic Giving

Cryptocurrency donations climb nearly twelvefold as donors tap nontraditional funding sources for giving

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#Philanthropy–Fidelity Charitable, an independent public charity and the nation’s largest grantmaker, set records in 2021 for number of donor-recommended grants, charities supported, and grant dollars distributed, according to its 2022 Giving Report. Donors recommended a record $10.3 billion in grants, 41% more dollars than pre-pandemic giving in 2019. The 2.2 million individual grants went to 187,000 organizations large and small, reaching local, national, and international groups.

Not only has the amount granted overall increased, but donors are recommending grants at a more rapid pace—an average of 12.4 grants per account in 2021 compared to 7.4 a decade ago. The average dollar amount of each grant has also grown, from $3,775 in 2012 to $4,407 in 2021.

“The phenomenal giving we saw from Fidelity Charitable donors in 2020 continued to grow in 2021, showing us that this increase in generosity is a sustainable trend,” said Fidelity Charitable President Jacob Pruitt. “Meeting the challenges of 2021 required fortitude and resilience, and Fidelity Charitable donors stepped up yet again to help their neighbors and make a difference in their communities.”

Twelvefold increase in cryptocurrency donations

Contributions of cryptocurrency rose dramatically as the value of Bitcoin climbed steeply: Fidelity Charitable donors contributed $331 million in digital assets in 2021, representing a nearly twelvefold increase over the $28 million contributed in 2020. This is part of the 66% of contribution dollars to Fidelity Charitable that were in the form of non-cash assets.

Helping donors monetize these non-cash assets for charity is a key way Fidelity Charitable helps donors maximize their impact, allowing them to give more than they could have by selling those assets and donating the proceeds. In addition to publicly traded stock, many donors contributed “complex” assets, such as privately held business shares and restricted stock, bringing the total that Fidelity Charitable’s in-house experts have helped to convert into cash available for granting to more than $10 billion since inception.

Donor support for responsive disaster relief

The report also shows how donor-advised funds served as a “ready reserve” for responsive philanthropy, as the ripple effects of the COVID-19 crisis continued to influence granting activity.

More donor-recommended grants went to organizations supporting Asian Americans, who faced a rise in hate incidents related to the pandemic—there was 800% increase in accounts supporting Asian Americans Advancing Justice, for example, and the Asian Pacific Fund saw a 590% increase.

Arts and culture organizations saw a marked increase in their portion of grant dollars—$351 million more in 2021 than in 2020—reflecting donor concern for the many arts organizations that struggled throughout the pandemic due to lost revenue from canceled performances, classes, and fundraiser events.

Donors also continued to support relief for emergency situations both domestically and internationally, such as the refugee crisis in Afghanistan and natural disasters throughout the United States.

Fidelity Charitable donor Nancy Osborn relied on her donor-advised fund to increase her giving to organizations fighting the uptick in homelessness, a cause that Osborn takes personally because of her own brush with homelessness as a young adult.

“I think about times that I was really hungry, and how close I came to being homeless, and how thankful I was that there was help available for me,” Osborn said. “The pandemic has put a lot of people in a world of hurt. … I want to share the money I have with people who need it.”

Significant surge in Giving Account assets allocated to impact investments

Giving Account assets allocated to impact investments rose to $3 billion in 2021—a 67% increase from 2020. Fidelity Charitable launched a new impact pool in 2021, giving donors a total of five sustainable and impact investment options that they can include in their investment recommendations for funds in their Giving Account.

Impact investing is the idea that organizations or financial vehicles can help achieve social benefits while also generating financial returns. The increasing popularity of impact investing in recent years signals the strategy’s move from a relatively niche concept to a trend gaining in support among individual donors at all levels.

Establishing and using a donor-advised fund:

Donors make a tax-deductible donation,

A donor can give cash, stocks or non-publicly traded assets to Fidelity Charitable or another public charity that sponsors a donor-advised fund program. The charity establishes a donor-advised fund in the donor’s name, and the donor can make additional contributions at any time.

… grow the donation tax-free

While donors decide which charities to support, their donations can potentially grow tax-free based on how they recommend them to be invested. At Fidelity Charitable, donors can recommend an investment strategy that aligns with their goals and time horizons for giving through investment pools or investment advisor-managed accounts.

… and support charities.

Donors can support IRS-qualified public charities with the money in their donor-advised funds. Before making a grant, Fidelity Charitable conducts due diligence on recommendations to ensure the funds will be used for charitable purposes.

For more information, view the full report here.

About Fidelity Charitable

Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 357,000 nonprofit organizations with over $61 billion in grants. Established in 1991, Fidelity Charitable launched the first national donor-advised fund program. The mission of the organization is to grow the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving accessible, simple, and effective. For more information about Fidelity Charitable, visit www.fidelitycharitable.org.

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