Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

As the season of giving comes to a close, we can be sure of this: The charity that will raise more money than any other will be Fidelity Charitable, an $30bn enterprise that manages the charitable giving of more than 200,000 mostly well-to-do clients.

Last year (2018), Fidelity Charitable collected $9bn in deposits. That was more than the combined haul of the five biggest charities — the United Way, the Mayo Clinic, the Salvation Army, Alsac/St. Jude’s Children Hospital and Harvard — on the list of America’s Favorite Charities compiled annually by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

While legally classified as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Fidelity Charitable is a charity in name only. It is, instead, a middleman–a rest stop on the way to the ultimate charitable destination–where donors can invest their money for as long as they like before donating to what most of us would recognize as a real charity. It is also a profit center, albeit a modest one, for its parent, Fidelity Investments. Fidelity Charitable has grown rapidly because clients can take an immediate tax deduction when they deposit money, even if they have no intention of giving the money away anytime soon.

This is a problem. For more, please read the rest of this story, headlined America’s biggest “charity” is built on a lie, on Medium.

3 thoughts on “Charitable in name only

  1. Wow, I had no idea! Thank you so much for bringing this FC situation to light. It seems like it might be tricky to stop, as you’d probably have to get rid of the tax loophole entirely, and that seems to be where these big nonprofits make their money (which sounds pretty confused as it is). And Harvard is considered a nonprofit, whaaat? I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this.


    1. Oh, ok I just read the rest of your article on Medium, but couldn’t comment there as I have no facebook. So this is really a can of worms then! Keep digging and keep writing. Thanks again.


  2. Stephen Viederman says:

    Marc On the mark again. But how to get the feds or others to see the joke. Be well. Steve



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