Tag Archives: Wall Street

Self-Interest

My recent blog post, “Wall Street Muscles In,” certainly got some attention: my largest readership ever for a single post, and a record number of comments both in this space and on LinkedIn, where people from around the country (nonprofit executives and financial services folks, mostly) debated my indictment of the commercial gift fund industry.

The majority of the comments on these various sites were positive, but one individual accused me of unfairly impugning the integrity of the financial services industry. He wrote, “There is an undertone that those [financial] advisors using donor-advised funds are somehow unethical because they are wanting to hold onto money to manage. A good advisor will listen to his client/donor and find the best solution, whatever it is. If he or she is simply standing between the ‘real’ charity and the donor, of course, that’s improper, but I may have a little more faith in the advisory community than you.”

Indeed, my critic does have more faith than I in the financial advisory community. Continue reading

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Wall Street Muscles In

I really wish I’d been wrong in my earlier warnings about the growth of commercial donor-advised funds. But the latest Philanthropy 400 rankings from the Chronicle of Philanthropy indicate that the Wall Street acquisition of the nonprofit sector is, if anything, ahead of schedule.

It turns out that for the second year in a row, the second-largest “philanthropy” in terms of funds raised in the U.S. is an entity called Fidelity Charitable. Fidelity Charitable’s growth rate was an astonishing 89% over the year before, and with donations of $3.2 billion, it is positioned to overtake United Way Worldwide (that is, the combined United Ways of the entire country), which only grew 1% and raised $3.9 billion.

How is something named Fidelity considered a charity at all, let alone one that is poised to become the nation’s largest? Here’s a history lesson. Continue reading

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