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Consumer complaint alleges religious discrimination by Fidelity Charitable

Account holder says financial giant screened her out from supporting mainstream conservative groups, including ADF

Friday, Aug 18, 2023

BATON ROUGE, La. – A consumer complaint filed with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry alleges that Fidelity Charitable is breaking its promise to honor donors’ grant requests in a “cause-neutral” manner. Submitted by Louisiana account holder Dawn Manning with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, the complaint calls upon the state’s top law enforcement officer to investigate Fidelity Charitable for potential discrimination and misrepresentations in violation of state consumer protection laws.

Fidelity Charitable is the largest donor-advised fund in the country and distributed over $11.2 billion in funds last year. Yet, as the complaint alleges, Fidelity Charitable seems to be caving to pressure from left-wing groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Amalgamated Foundation, and “Unmasking Fidelity” to block anonymous donations to mainstream religious and conservative groups.

“Politicizing our culture of giving is dangerous for people of all beliefs. Our freedoms travel together—including freedom of speech and philanthropic freedom,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President for Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco. “The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021 decision in Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta affirmed that the First Amendment’s promise of ‘free association’ includes the right to privacy in financial giving. Everyone deserves a voice, not merely those able to weather abuse.”

Although Fidelity Charitable held up Manning’s gifts to ADF, Family Research Council, Center for Security Policy, and Pacific Justice Foundation—three of which have been targeted by “Unmasking Fidelity” and all of which the SPLC smears as “hate groups”—her test donations to leftist groups Human Rights Campaign, CAIR Foundation, and Lambda Legal were all quickly processed.

Since 2019, Fidelity Charitable has informed account holders in at least 12 states that they are unable to anonymously direct funds to ADF. That same year, “Unmasking Fidelity” began demanding that Fidelity Charitable publicly disclose five years’ worth of contributions to 10 targeted organizations, including ADF, Family Research Council, and Center for Security Policy.

Relying on the highly discredited SPLC—which has gained notoriety in recent months for adding hundreds of parental-rights-in-education groups to its already thoroughly debunked “Hate Map”—Unmasking Fidelity’s campaign also demands that Fidelity Charitable impose a litmus test that would screen out many conservative and religious charities as giving options. Despite public assurances to the contrary from Fidelity Charitable leadership, Manning’s complaint appears to confirm that the pressure campaign is yielding results.

“Everyone should oppose this name-and-shame censorship,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross. “Every American should be free to support causes they believe in without fear of harassment or intimidation. That’s why the anonymity provided by donor-advised funds like Fidelity Charitable is so important, and it’s why government officials like the Louisiana attorney general must ensure that people of faith are not treated as second-class citizens.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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