Investors contributed $1.1 billion to the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund in 2009, a 4.7% increase from the $1.05 billion they gave in 2008.

In addition, for the third year in a row, donors to the fund recommended a payout of more than $1 billion in 298,000 grants to charities. The fund, which is the nation’s largest donor-advised fund program and the third-largest public charity, supports 60,000 non-profit organizations.

“Despite the economic uncertainty of 2009, our donors maintained their commitment to help the nation’s nonprofit organizations at a time when that help was desperately needed,” said Sarah C. Libbey, president of the Gift Fund. “This demonstrates the value of donor-advised funds as helpful long-term giving vehicles that ensure charitable dollars are available in good times and bad.”

After announcing an electronic funds transfer capability to the fund in November, more than $15 million was invested in the fund via 1,095 EFT transactions. Last year, the fund also lowered its minimum balanced requirement to $250,000 from $1 million, and additional contributions from $1,000 to any amount of a donor’s choice, in an overall effort to increase the fund’s accessibility.

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