Is the Future of Charitable Donation at Risk?

John Stonestreet and Shane Morris | BreakPoint, | Published: May 18, 2022
Is the Future of Charitable Donation at Risk?

Is the Future of Charitable Donation at Risk?

Imagine if giving money in support of a group that protects religious liberty, crafts pro-life legislation, or teaches a biblical view of sexuality or marriage meant that your name and the amount of your contribution would be publicly available. Anyone, including anyone who hoped to intimidate, harass, or “out you” to your employer, would have access to that information.   

Would you still give if giving exacted a social cost as well as a financial one? That’s the situation countless conservative and Christian donors could face.

An upstart group called “Unmasking Fidelity” is trying to expose conservative donors to harassment by demanding the nation’s largest grant-maker, Fidelity Charitable, publicly reveal contributions to ten key organizations. These include the Family Research Council, Turning Point USA, and Alliance Defending Freedom, which Unmasking Fidelity absurdly calls “white supremacist” and “fascist.”

The true agenda behind the name-calling is obvious. Some of these organizations have been thorns in the side of progressive policymakers and lawyers who wish to impose their views on all Americans. Alliance Defending Freedom, for example, has been responsible for several key religious freedom victories at the U.S. Supreme Court, including one last year that protected conservative donors in California from having their names and charitable contributions published. In Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta, lawyers with ADF successfully argued against a California law that effectively “doxxed” donors—exposing them to harassment and intimidation.

Having failed in court, progressive activists hare now directing their efforts to attacking their opponents’ funding, specifically any conservative and Christian donors who use Fidelity Financial to manage their nonprofit contributions. Unmasking Fidelity is demanding five years’ worth of receipts for all donations that have gone to ten charities whose views they don’t like.

If Fidelity agrees to these demands, any major donor who gives to these organizations, or any like them, ought to immediately move their charitable dollars. Thankfully, there are trustworthy homes for this money, including Waterstone, National Christian Foundation, and Signatry.

As ADF put it, Unmasking Fidelity “desires to punish [Fidelity] and their donors for supporting principles millions of Americans endorse—religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and sanctity of life.” If Fidelity caves to these demands, other financial institutions would likely follow, and an ideological litmus test would be imposed on account holders and institutions. Conservative and Christian groups would be effectively blacklisted by predominant financial players which is precisely what these activists want. From there, they can target other financial institutions and services, such as credit card processing and banking. As ADF concludes, this is an effort to “circumvent the First Amendment” right after the Supreme Court ruled that nonprofit donations are free speech.

This is, of course, cancel culture at its worst. If it succeeds, our  radioactive political landscape would only become more toxic, and ordinary Americans will be increasingly afraid to contribute to or show public support for causes that would invite harassment or cost them their jobs. Our nation is divided enough, without every citizen who wants to make a charitable donation being effectively put on trial in the court of public opinion.

Fidelity Charitable needs to hear from its account holders and the public. As of this publication, more than 30,000 financial advisors, investment professionals, and nonprofit leaders have already signed a letter urging Fidelity Charitable’s leadership to reject the demands of progressive activists. Contact Fidelity Charitable directly and urge them to fight for the privacy and freedom of account holders, as well as for the good of our civil society. The email address is [email protected]. And, if you plan on donating to conservative or Christian nonprofits through a donor-advised fund, consider a Christian-based financial firm that is less vulnerable to pressure from activists. ADF has compiled a list of suggested organizations.

The stakes are clear. Not only must we protect the future of charitable contribution and organizations doing great work, we must stop this financial squeezing strategy right now, before it gains any momentum.

Publication date: May 18, 2022

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Artursfoto

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.

BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

Is the Future of Charitable Donation at Risk?