Opinion
January 15, 2016

Fidelity’s Goal Isn’t About Profits, but Charity

To the editor:

We very much agree with many of the points raised by the writers of "Spending Deadlines on Donor-Advised Funds Would Be a Mistake" (Jan. 11, 2016) about the potential negative consequences to philanthropy of forced payouts from donor-advised funds. We also agree that payout rates at such funds are very high — for example, contributions to our donor-advised funds are more than 90 percent depleted within a decade.

We do, however, wish to correct the record in regard to the authors’ assertion that "the ultimate objectives" of national donor-advised funds such as ours are to grow assets under management of a fund for a financial-services firm and seek profits from investment fees.

This is fundamentally and entirely wrong.

We are a nonprofit charitable organization, governed by an independent Board of Trustees. We are committed to one goal: enabling more donors to more easily and efficiently support charities. To achieve that goal, we keep all administrative and other organizational costs remarkably low.

Our fiduciary duties are straightforward. Our primary obligation is to make grants exclusively in furtherance of proper charitable purposes. In doing so, the trustees must exercise care and prudence with respect to our assets. To that end, the board has hired Fidelity Investments as one of several service providers. Fidelity Charitable’s payments to Fidelity Investments do not exceed fair-market value for the services provided. And the agreement we have with Fidelity is not exclusive. For example, nearly one-third of Fidelity Charitable’s assets are managed by investment managers not affiliated with Fidelity

Anna Spangler Nelson

Chair, Board of Trustees

Fidelity Charitable

Charlotte, N.C.