Market Overview

Survey: More Americans Committed to Charitable Giving Despite Economic Uncertainties


Four out of five (81 percent) American donors1 plan to give the same or more to charity this year, according to the Fidelity Charitable® Giving Season Survey. Results from this annual survey conducted this month show the percentage of Americans planning to maintain or increase their giving is trending higher for the second year in a row, with a nine and 18 percentage point increase over 2011 and 2010 respectively. The results also show that on average, Americans expect to give $2,400 to charity this year, compared to $2,100 last year.

Fidelity Charitable, an independent public charity that helps donors support charitable organizations through a national donor-advised fund program, sponsored the study of 571 Americans to explore behaviors and motivations around charitable giving. In the survey, 42 percent of respondents cited improved personal economic reasons for giving more, including a new job, a raise or lower household expenses.

“While there is still uncertainty about where the economy is headed, Americans are showing a willingness to give more to the causes they care about,” said Sarah Libbey, president of Fidelity Charitable. “This is particularly important as past and proposed cuts in federal and state funding have charities seeking more support from private donors.”

Giving Is a Family Affair

Survey results also indicate a strong family connection in terms of selecting causes to support as well as encouraging a family tradition of philanthropy. Forty-four percent of respondents strongly agree that they donate to charity to set a good example for their family or community, and 71 percent are influenced to give by a life event such as an illness or death among family or friends. Two-thirds (67 percent) would describe giving as a holiday tradition in their family.

More than four-fifths (82 percent) of Americans surveyed agree that their parents taught them to give, and 78 percent have taught or are teaching their children to give. Of those respondents who are passing on the tradition of giving, 71 percent cite encouraging their children to volunteer time as a way to teach philanthropy. Other activities cited include donating from allowances or a job (61 percent), volunteering as a family (61 percent) and giving children money to donate (49 percent).

“A critical element driving the American tradition of philanthropy is how it extends through generations,” explained Libbey. “A donor-advised fund is one way families can enable inter-generational giving. Parents will establish a family fund to engage children in planning and selecting causes to support. We also see grandparents skipping a generation and involving grandchildren in giving decisions.”

Political Donations Do Not Cut Into Charitable Donations For Most

The unprecedented fundraising requests for the 2012 political campaigns have not affected most Americans' giving to non-political charities. For those who donated or planned to donate to a political campaign, the vast majority (89 percent) said it did not negatively impact their charitable giving.

Most respondents also said charitable tax deductions do not influence their giving – three-quarters of respondents disagreed when asked if they donated to charity to get a tax deduction.

Fidelity Charitable Experiencing Record-breaking Results

Consistent with the upward giving trend identified in the Giving Season Study, Fidelity Charitable reported today that it is having its strongest year ever in outgoing grants to charities and incoming contributions. Through the first nine months of the year, incoming contributions to Fidelity Charitable were up 63 percent compared with the same period in 2011, as donors contributed $1.2 billion in new charitable dollars. Meanwhile, grants rose 16 percent, with $961 million given to 256,000 nonprofit organizations. Since the end of September, Fidelity Charitable passed the $1 billion mark for outgoing grants. The milestone was passed in October, the earliest $1 billion in grants has been achieved in the charity's 20-year history.

“Americans have always had a strong commitment to philanthropy and we are pleased to support this commitment through our programs to make giving simple and effective,” said Libbey. “We think the dramatic increases in grants and contributions are driven by the increasing awareness of how a donor-advised fund can support charitable giving plans and our enhanced services and outreach to advisors who are playing a greater role in charitable giving strategies for clients.”

Survey Methodology

The Fidelity Charitable Giving Season 2012 study was conducted among a national probability sample of 571 adults (people 18 and older) who intend to donate $200 or more to charity in 2012. Interviews were completed by telephone October 4-7 by independent research firm, Opinion Research Corporation (ORC).

About Fidelity Charitable

Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 150,000 nonprofit organizations with over $13 billion in grants. The mission of the organization is to further the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving simple and effective. Established in 1991, Fidelity Charitable launched the first national donor-advised fund program. Through August 2012, investment options at Fidelity Charitable have generated and additional $1.8 billion available for charitable purposes, above the contributions received from donors. For more information about Fidelity Charitable, visit

Fidelity Charitable is the brand name for the Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund, an independent public charity with a donor-advised fund program. Various Fidelity companies provide services to Fidelity Charitable. The Fidelity Charitable name and logo are service marks, and Fidelity is a registered service mark, of FMR LLC, used by Fidelity Charitable under license.


© 2012 Trustees of Fidelity Charitable. All rights reserved.

1 Adults who plan to donate $200 or more to charity in 2012

For Fidelity Charitable
Kim Gagliardi, 603-791-6093
Fidelity Investments
Corporate Communications

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