Big contributors to charity typically wait until the fourth quarter of the year before writing their annual checks, hanging onto the money as long as they can while still qualifying for the tax deduction. So news about sharply higher contributions in the first three quarters of 2011 at Fidelity Charitable—the country’s largest donor advised fund with $5.4 billion in assets reported at the start of the year—raises the possibility that the giving will go gangbusters in 4Q.
Fidelity said contributions in the first three quarters reached $748 million, up 23 percent year over year. Donations of appreciated securities accounted for 56 percent of the largesse, up from 51 percent. Complex asset donations—limited partnership interests or C- and S-corporation stock—were five times higher year to date through Sept. 30.
Appreciated securities are especially popular when the stock market rises; donors can deduct the full value of the securities without paying capital gains.
Grants from Fidelity Charitable advised funds to worthy causes were up 12 percent over the first nine months of the year, to $832 million.