Families using philanthropy as teaching opportunity

Charitable giving is becoming a family affair and an opportunity help children learn about philanthropy, particularly in families headed by donors under age 50, a new report says.

Donors with donor advised funds also are increasing the size of their grants, make grants more often, and spend most of the contributions to their funds within 10 years, says the 2014 Fidelity Charitable Giving Report.

The report, based on a survey of over 1,100 Fidelity Charitable donors and an analysis of the granting behavior of over 104,000 donors connected to nearly 64,000 donor advised funds, also says donors frequently recommend grants in advance or arrange for their distribution on a recurring basis.

Ninety-four percent of donors surveyed agreed strongly or somewhat that they are teaching or have taught their children to give, and 65 percent discussed their charitable giving with family more than twice in the past year, including 17 percent who discussed the topic with family more than five times a year.

Seventy-eight percent said the causes they support reflect input from family members.

Donors under age 50 were one-and-a-half times as likely as donors over 70 to strongly agree they are teaching or have taught their children to give.

Seventy-eight percent of donors under 50 talk about philanthropic strategies with family members at least twice a year, and 86 percent agree their family influences their charitable choices.

The analysis of donor advised funds at Fidelity Charitable found the average number of grants per fund grew to eight a year in 2013 from seven in 2012, with the average grant totaling $4,017, up 6 percent from the 2012.

Most income contributions to giving accounts are fully spent as grants within 10 years with 91 percent of contributions made from 1996 through 2000 granted to charities by the end of 2010.

Just over one in five grants, or a total of 110,000 grants, were recommended on a pre-scheduled basis.

Grants designated to to be used “where needed most” accounted for 41 percent of gnats overall.

An analysis of grants by the age of the donor found older donors recommend grants  across a wider range of charitable sectors than younger donors.

Donors under age 50  were most likely to recommend grants to the education, human services and religion sectors.

Donors older than 50 supported those sectors at similar or slightly greater frequencies, but recommended grants more frequently to charities in other sectors as well.

Todd Cohen

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