Earlier this year, Fidelity Charitable released a 2016 “Giving Report.” Then, on June 22, 2016, Fidelity released a supplement to this report. The supplement analyzed the amount that donors give based on philanthropic interest and metropolitan area.
Over 80,000 donor-advised funds are managed by Fidelity on behalf of 132,000 donors. Fidelity Charitable’s funds have $3.2 billion in assets, making Fidelity Charitable’s funds the second-largest grantmaking group in the U.S. To analyze all the funds and develop the supplement, Fidelity used almost 42,000 funds advised and established by donors located in the top 30 U.S. metropolitan areas (MSAs).
In order to select the top 30 MSAs, Fidelity Charitable looked at the number of Fidelity donor advised funds in each city. The supplemental material went on to assess which cities had the highest giving in eight philanthropic sectors: arts and culture, environment and animals, human services, society benefit, international affairs, religion, education, and health. These sectors are defined by the Urban Institute’s National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE).
Giving is very personal in nature. People usually donate to causes that are important to them. For this reason, it is no surprise that the city-by-city supplement shows that different cities have different giving priorities. Our country is large and diverse, and the giving trends shown by the supplement reflect this diversity. For example, Fidelity donors in Salt Lake City donated the most money to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Salt Lake City was not in the top 10 in charitable support of any category aside from religion. Conversely, Boston-Cambridge-Quincy was in the top 10 in every category besides religion. In fact, Boston was number one in giving to health charities.
In the supplement, the most detailed information is provided for 12 MSAs: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Minneapolis, New York City, Los Angeles, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Washington D.C. Within these 12 metropolitan areas, public broadcasting was a very popular industry to donate to. The popularity of public broadcasting among Fidelity DAF donors may show a correlation between Fidelity investors and devotees. It may also show that Fidelity donors give gifts at every level rather than just giving major gifts. This point was already brought up in the main 2016 Giving Report, but the data from supplement nicely supports it.
Going along with the idea that we donate to causes that are close to our hearts, Washington, D.C. ranks the highest for donating to charities in the international affairs sector. It also ranks high for donating to human services, education, environment and animals, arts and culture, and society benefits. San Francisco-Fremont-Oakland leads in donating to environmental and animal causes as well as arts & culture organizations. The top 10 lists also contain a few smaller metropolitan areas. St. Louis is among the top five cities that give to the environment and animals. Detroit is number two on the list for donating to human services. According to Fidelity, the diversity in city size could be proof that certain causes are supported with varying levels of intensity in many parts of the coutnry.
2016 is the first year that Fidelity has analyzed its fund data on the axis of geographic location. While they didn’t correlate these findings with other giving data that is available, they are open to the possibility of doing so in later years. If this correlation is done, researchers and practitioners may be able to better understand local giving patterns. They may also be able to figure out whether Fidelity DAF donors make choices that are similar to, or different from, those of other donors in their own hometowns. Fidelity’s supplemental report is valuable and could be the basis for more expansive analysis in the future.