Frequently Asked Questions
What is a donor-advised fund and how does it work?
A donor-advised fund program at a public charity allows individuals and organizations to make irrevocable contributions to the public charity, which are then allocated to a specific account — the individual "donor-advised fund" — from which the "donor-advisors" may then recommend grants to qualified charities.
When donors make contributions, they may in turn be eligible to take tax deductions. Account holders also receive and obtain certain privileges over the individual donor-advised fund, including the ability to recommend grants to IRS-qualified public charities.
Usually, donor-advisors can also recommend an investment strategy for their donor-advised fund from among available options, allowing the potential for contributions to grow and possibly result in larger charitable grants.
Is there a minimum account balance I must maintain?
There is no minimum balance that is required for a Giving Account.
How do I set up a Giving Account?
To set up a Giving Account, simply complete a Donor Application and submit it along with your contribution to Fidelity Charitable (minimum initial contribution of $5,000 for individual Giving Accounts and $25,000 for corporate Giving Accounts) in cash equivalents, securities, or select real estate. You can get started right now:
What should I read before setting up a Giving Account and making a charitable contribution?
Read the Fidelity Charitable Policy Guidelines. You will be required to agree to these policies upon signing the Donor Application.
Will my company match my gift that I recommend out of a Giving Account?
Check with your employer to ascertain its policy on making matching gifts to grants recommended from donor-advised funds.
Is Fidelity Charitable a nonprofit organization?
Fidelity Charitable is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization and public charity under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).
Where do staff salaries come from?
The administrative fee charged to all Giving Accounts goes toward operating expenses, which include staff salaries.
Do you have any statistics that show whether Fidelity Charitable is increasing the level of philanthropy in the U.S.?
While there is no way for us to track the amount that would have gone somewhere else had circumstances been different, we do know that as of December 31, 2012, Fidelity Charitable has helped donors grant more than $14 billion to more than 160,000 nonprofit organizations.
What is the minimum grant dollar amount I can recommend?
The minimum grant amount a donor can recommend to a charity is $50.
Can I have the grant check sent to me so I can present it to the organization?
Fidelity Charitable only sends grant checks to the grant recipients.
You can always view a copy of the letter and check the organization will receive by logging in to your Giving Account and accessing the documents in Statements & Confirmations.
How does Fidelity Charitable know if a nonprofit organization is an IRS-qualified public charity?
Fidelity Charitable maintains a database of qualified charities that includes the most up to date information from the IRS.
If an organization is not currently listed in our database, that does not necessarily mean a grant cannot be made to the organization. However, it will require additional research before any grants may be made.
Can I have a checkbook associated with this account?
All grant recommendations are subject to review and approval by the Trustees of Fidelity Charitable so cannot be distributed by check on a real-time basis.
Grant recommendations can be made online at FidelityCharitable.org, through the iPhone app, by phone, or by submitting a Grant Recommendation Form.
Is there a minimum grant amount?
The Trustees have set minimums on grant distributions to maintain cost-effectiveness and to encourage charitable giving. The minimum grant is $50. Grants must be made in $5 increments.
Are there other guidelines for grant recommendations?
For complete information on all grant making guidelines, please refer to the Fidelity Charitable Policy Guidelines.
Can I make grant recommendations to foreign charities?
Fidelity Charitable does not grant directly to foreign charities. However, many foreign charities receive funding from U.S. public charities that support international causes. In certain circumstances, Fidelity Charitable donors may make grant recommendations to benefit foreign charities through these existing U.S. public charities. Certain conditions, grant minimums, and fees may apply.
If you are interested in supporting a particular foreign organization, we suggest you ask a representative of that organization to recommend a U.S.-based nonprofit that sends funds to the foreign group. In addition, there are many U.S. nonprofits that provide services in foreign countries. You can research your options in our online Charitable Planning area. All grants are subject to standard due diligence policies and procedures.
Why do nonprofits continue to solicit me even though I've already recommended a grant to them from Fidelity Charitable?
When you recommend grants to a nonprofit organization, your name may appear on the letter sent by Fidelity Charitable to accompany the grant check. Some charities will take your name from this letter and add you to their mailing lists. One way to avoid this is to recommend grants anonymously. Anonymity options are available whether you recommend grants online, by phone, or on paper.
Can people who do not have a Fidelity Charitable Giving Account make contributions for the benefit of another person's Giving Account?
Anyone can make tax deductible charitable contributions to Fidelity Charitable, which can be allocated into a Giving Account. All contributions must meet the criteria outlined in the Fidelity Charitable Policy Guidelines.
Third-party contributors — people who do not have a Giving Account — will have no privileges with respect to their contributions, such as recommending investment allocations and grants. Third-party contributors also cannot receive anything in consideration of their contribution, under IRS rules and Fidelity Charitable policies.
Account Holders cannot solicit third-party contributions on behalf of a specific charitable organization or on behalf of Fidelity Charitable for their Giving Account, and cannot guarantee to contributors that intended grant recommendations will be approved.
Does Fidelity Charitable require specific contribution amounts?
Individuals may set up a Giving Account with a minimum initial contribution to Fidelity Charitable of $5,000, and corporations may set up a Giving Account with a minimum initial contribution to Fidelity Charitable of $25,000.
What happens when Fidelity Charitable receives my contribution?
When a contribution is received and accepted, Fidelity Charitable will allocate the proceeds of the contribution to your Giving Account, and will purchase units of each investment pool recommended for the Giving Account. Units will be purchased on the business day (each day that the New York Stock Exchange is open for business) Fidelity Charitable receives cash or the proceeds from the sale of the contributed assets.
Will Fidelity Charitable send me a receipt for my contribution?
Yes, we will provide written confirmation of your contribution. This confirmation will serve as your receipt for tax purposes. If you make your contribution online, you will receive an email notice immediately confirming the receipt of your request and a second email notice once the transaction (or sale of the contributed asset) has completed.
Please note: Since you become eligible for a tax deduction at the time you make your contribution to Fidelity Charitable, any other receipts or acknowledgments you may receive (like from a public charity to which you recommended a grant) are duplicative and cannot be used for tax purposes.
What does "immediate tax deduction" mean?
Fidelity Charitable donors may be eligible to take an itemized deduction valued on the date their charitable contribution to Fidelity Charitable is made, subject to the general limitations described in "What are the limitations on charitable deductions?", below. Your deduction will depend, in part, on the type of asset that you contribute. Please check with your tax advisor. Deduction amounts follow:
- Check/wire/Electronic Funds Transfer: Your deduction is generally the amount of your cash contribution.
- Publicly traded securities: For publicly traded securities held for more than one year, your deduction generally will be the fair market value of the securities on the day of the contribution.
- Securities that are not publicly traded: For securities not publicly traded that have been held for more than one year, your deduction will be the fair market value determined by you in a reasonable manner on the date the contribution is made. The IRS will require you to obtain a qualified independent appraisal in certain circumstances.
- Real Estate: For contributions of real estate, your deduction will be the fair market value determined by you in a reasonable manner on the date the contribution is made. The IRS will require you to obtain a qualified independent appraisal in certain circumstances.
The Fidelity Charitable Policy Guidelines are a good reference for detailed tax questions. This section addresses only federal taxes. Rules and regulations regarding tax deductions for charitable giving vary at the state level. In addition, certain additional rules or limitations may apply with respect to your tax treatment depending on your specific circumstances. Please consult with your tax advisor.
What are the limitations on charitable deductions?
Under the Internal Revenue Code, deductions for charitable contributions are subject to certain "percentage limitations" that limit the deductions that can be taken to a stated percentage of adjusted gross income ("AGI") in the year the deduction is taken. (Contributions in excess of these percentage limitations may be carried forward up to five subsequent years.) Because Fidelity Charitable is a public charity, the percentage limitations that apply are generally the most favorable charitable deductions available under IRS regulations.
- Deductions for contributions of long-term capital gain property (such as appreciated securities held for more than one year) are limited to 30% of AGI.
- Deductions for all other contributions (including contributions of cash) may be taken up to 50% of AGI.
Your ability to take itemized deductions may be subject to certain other limitations. Please contact your tax advisor to determine your tax deductibility limits.
What types of assets can I contribute to Fidelity Charitable?
Cash equivalents, publicly traded stock, mutual fund shares, bonds, certain private or restricted stock, and select real estate are eligible for contribution to Fidelity Charitable. We will be glad to discuss proposed contributions with you. Please contact us at 800-952-4438 for assistance.
What types of bank accounts are eligible for Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)?
For an individual Giving Account, Fidelity Charitable will accept contributions from your personal savings or checking accounts with any U.S. bank. Your Social Security Number should match the corresponding Social Security Number on your bank account.
For a Corporate Giving Account, Fidelity Charitable will accept contributions from a corporate account with any U.S. bank. The corporate bank account must be an account for which you are authorized to act on behalf of the corporate entity.
Is there a fee for EFT?
Fidelity Charitable does not charge a fee for using EFT; however, your bank may charge a fee.
Can I contribute privately held company stock to Fidelity Charitable?
Contributions of privately held company stock are reviewed and accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us at 800-952-4438 for assistance.
Can I contribute real estate to Fidelity Charitable?
Contributions of appreciated real estate are reviewed and accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us at 800-952-4438 for assistance.
Would it be a wise estate planning idea to leave my IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account to Fidelity Charitable?
You should always check with your own tax advisor or trusts and estates attorney because individual situations vary substantially. It is permissible to leave your IRA or other tax-deferred account to charity. At your death, the full value of the account will be included in your estate, but since it is being transferred to a charity, it will qualify for the unlimited charitable deduction.
With any employer-sponsored retirement plan (e.g., a 401(k)), there must be spousal consent to leave the balance of your retirement account to a charity. You also must bear in mind the minimum required distribution rules, the needs of your beneficiary, and your financial needs during your lifetime.
What about contributing from my retirement account now?
Again, it is important to speak with your tax advisor or attorney about your personal situation. In general, during your lifetime, whenever you take money out of your tax-deferred account (IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc.), the distribution is considered income to you and is a taxable event. Therefore, you would have to pay the taxes due upon the value of the distributed assets and the remaining money would go to the charitable organization.
However, there may be certain exceptions for "employer securities" (shares of an employer's stock, or "company stock") held in a 401(k) account. If you are interested in contributing this type of security, contact us at 800-952-4438 for assistance.
Can I give a variable annuity to Fidelity Charitable?
We can accept variable annuities that are nonqualified. However, most variable annuities are qualified, which means they are equal to pre-tax dollars. Therefore, the owner must create a taxable event (that is, sell the variable annuity) before donating the money.
At death, annuities bring up the same considerations as retirement plans, although there are no minimum required distribution rules to consider. (See previous two questions for more on contributing from a retirement account.) This is another instance in which it is important to consult with a tax advisor to evaluate your individual situation. This answer should not be construed as tax advice.
How do the Fidelity Charitable Trustees choose the funds included in Fidelity Charitable pools?
The Fidelity Charitable Trustees have engaged Strategic Advisers, Inc. a Fidelity Investments company, to be the investment manager for Fidelity Charitable. The Trustees meet regularly with Strategic Advisers, Inc. to review the investment pools, and the underlying investment options, as well as the investment performance.
Do you offer any pools that draw exclusively on "socially responsible" investments?
No, at this point Fidelity Charitable does not offer such pools.
What is the Fidelity Charitable iPhone App?
The Fidelity Charitable iPhone App makes supporting your favorite charities even easier. Once you have downloaded the app and logged in to your Giving Account®, you can recommend grants, check your balances, and view the status of grant recommendations and contributions — wherever you are.
How do I know if I have access to the app?
All Account Holders and authorized interested parties with full transactional access can use the iPhone App. Those with "view only" access, corporate/organization contacts, and advisors cannot log in at this time.
Is the app available on other smartphones?
No, the app is only available for the iPhone.
Can I view my entire transaction history in the app?
Currently, the app allows you to view two years (730 days) of your transaction history. Your entire history can be viewed by logging in to your Giving Account on FidelityCharitable.org.
I've been locked out of my Giving Account, what do I do?
If you enter your password incorrectly three times you will be automatically locked out of your Giving Account. You need to go to FidelityCharitable.org to reset your password.
When will I be able to make a contribution to Fidelity Charitable through the app?
We are currently working to make mobile charitable contributions available.
Can I recommend pool exchanges on the app?
No. However, once you've recommended a grant, you can log in to your Giving Account on FidelityCharitable.org or call a Fidelity Charitable representative at 800-262-6039 to recommend a pool exchange to rebalance your current allocation.
What is a Gift4Giving eGift?
A Gift4Giving eGift is a unique charitable gift that a Fidelity Charitable donor can send to a friend, family member or colleague, via email, which allows grant/gift recommendation privileges over a portion of his/her Giving Account. This is a great way to get others involved in charitable giving and to learn about donor-advised funds.
How does the program work?
After the donor requests a Gift4Giving eGift online from their Giving Account, the recipient then receives an email from Fidelity Charitable (with the name of the person who sent the Gift4Giving in the subject line of the email), containing a link to a web page that will give him/her the opportunity to recommend one or more gifts of $50 or more to support his/her favorite charities.
Are there any fees to send a Gift4Giving eGift?
There are no fees associated with sending a Gift4Giving eGift.
How do I know if the recipient has recommended gifts to charity from his/her Gift4Giving?
Transaction information — including when the Gift4Giving email notification was sent by Fidelity Charitable, been recommended to a charitable organization or whether it has expired — is viewable in your Gift4Giving History.
Does the Gift4Giving eGift expire?
A Gift4Giving eGift will expire 180 calendar days after the email is sent to the recipient. At expiration, Gift4Giving amounts that have not been recommended and granted to qualified public charities will be reallocated to the donor's Giving Account and will be invested according to the Giving Account's current allocation.
As a Gift4Giving recipient, what charities can I choose to support?
Gifts can be made to 501(c)(3) IRS-qualified public charities found in the Fidelity Charitable database of qualified gift recipient charities.
As a Gift4Giving recipient, do I receive a tax deduction when a gift is made by Fidelity Charitable to a public charity?
Gift4Giving recipients are not eligible for charitable deductions for these gifts, since the gift is made by Fidelity Charitable. Donors received a tax deduction at the time of their initial contribution to Fidelity Charitable.