- Fidelity Charitable (FC), a major donor-advised fund, allegedly blocked an account holder from sending anonymous donations to conservative non-profits that appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) hate group list, according to a consumer complaint obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- ADF Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco told the DCNF it appears to be a “widespread Fidelity Charitable policy,” explaining that 15 donors in 13 different states have reported the same problem to ADF.
- The complaint alleges anonymous donations to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Family Research Council (FRC), Center for Security Policy (CSP) and Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) were marked “awaiting information” for over a month, while donations to left-leaning groups were quickly approved.
Donor-advised fund Fidelity Charitable (FC) is being accused of blocking account holders from sending anonymous donations to certain conservative non-profits that appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) hate group list, according to a consumer complaint obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Account holder Dawn Manning’s requests to send anonymous grants to four conservative groups were marked “awaiting information” for over a month, with three still not approved, while her requests to send grants to three left-leaning organizations were quickly approved, according to a July 19 consumer complaint filed with the Louisiana attorney general. In the complaint, Manning raised concerns that grants to the organizations — which include the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Family Research Council (FRC), Center for Security Policy (CSP) and Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) — are being withheld because they are marked as hate groups by SPLC.
ADF Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco told the DCNF it appears to be a “widespread Fidelity Charitable policy,” explaining that 15 donors in 13 different states have reported the same problem to ADF. This, he said, is likely “a very small portion of the people who are actually experiencing the problem.”
“People have a right to be able to give to the causes they believe in without fear of harassment or intimidation,” Tedesco said. “We would never advocate that the SPLC, ACLU, Planned Parenthood or others get denied access to donations or that their donors get treated the same way our donors are being treated,” he continued. “Cause neutrality means cause neutrality. Everybody should have equal access to this given platform.” (RELATED: Parental Rights Groups Added To Southern Poverty Law Center’s ‘Hate And Extremist’ List)
Three of the organizations named in the consumer complaint have also been targeted by Unmasking Fidelity, a campaign pressuring FC to stop allowing donations to “hate groups.” Despite this, the organizations allegedly restricted by FC maintain high ratings on a tool FC recommends for evaluating charities, Charity Navigator, the complaint notes.
Manning submitted her grant requests on May 8, May 9, and May 15, receiving a message after each one explaining that FC’s “policies require reviewing all grant recommendations to ensure that grants are used exclusively for proper charitable purposes.” When she called FC on May 23, a representative said the board of trustees was not approving anonymous grants to these organizations.
Two days after the call, Manning submitted grant requests to the left-learning CAIR Foundation, Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal Defense Fund that were approved that day.
Manning also sent a letter to FC on June 27 highlighting the issue. “If FC’s concern is truly over whether or not these organizations are using grants ‘exclusively for proper charitable purposes,’ I don’t understand why simply agreeing to provide my name and address would make a difference in the decision to approve the grants,” she wrote.
“This is a serious matter to me,” she said. “FC has enriched my life by enabling me to give anonymously to charities I love. I hope FC will honor its promise to be cause-neutral by enabling me to donate anonymously to charities that I love and want to support.”
FC’s website states it is “a cause-neutral independent public charity” that “does not limit grantmaking based on political, religious, or philosophical grounds.”
“It looks like Fidelity Charitable is just ceding control over who their donors can give to, to external activist organizations who don’t have Fidelity Charitable clients’ best interests at heart,” Tedesco told the DCNF.
Chris Gacek, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Regulatory Affairs, told the DCNF the organization is grateful to Dawn Manning “for her persistence in trying to determine why her charitable wishes appear to have been thwarted by Fidelity.”
“Without her determination and integrity these events would have passed unknown,” he said. “It is a great honor to know that FRC has donors who evince such courage in the face of adversity. FRC believes that having the ability to financially support the causes one believes in without corporate interference is essential to sustaining the vibrancy of the Bill or Rights that protects all Americans.”
FC and CSP did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment. PJI said it has not received complaints from donors.
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