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Supreme Court of the United States

Political Activists Are Trying to Limit Charity Donations

By Caroline Roberts posted on:
February 1, 2022

The United States is one of the world’s most generous countries, with Americans devoting large amounts of time and money to charitable endeavors. We have a unique culture that fosters giving. But one group of leftist activists is trying to discourage donations—simply because these advocates want to block people from giving money to organizations that hold different opinions than they do.

Unmasking Fidelity is pressuring Fidelity Charitable, one of the country’s largest grant-maker organizations, to disclose its past contributions to 10 targeted organizations with which these activists disagree ideologically, including Alliance Defending Freedom.

Regardless of where you stand politically, this situation should remind us of the importance of viewpoint diversity and donor privacy.

Viewpoint diversity and donor privacy

By demanding that Fidelity reveal donations to organizations such as the Family Research Council, Turning Point USA, and ADF, Unmasking Fidelity is attempting to blackball these organizations, punishing them and their supporters for supporting causes millions of Americans endorse—free speech, religious freedom, and pro-life, family values. It’s also demanding that Fidelity Charitable require all organizations to pass a viewpoint-based litmus test before they can receive account-holder donations, a clear violation of freedom of association.

If Fidelity Charitable gives in to the activists’ demands, other charities and donors will receive the clear message that you must hold the same opinions as the left—or else.

Every American should have the freedom to give to the causes they support without fearing that either their private donations will be revealed to the public or that they will be harassed in the court of public opinion for doing so. This would damage not only freedom of association but also freedom of speech, as “cancel culture” and disrespect for diversity of thought reap real ramifications.

And we have already seen this tested in court.

A recent Supreme Court case

In 2010, California began requiring all nonprofit organizations that solicit donations in the state to release the names and private information (such as addresses) of major donors to the attorney general’s office every year.

This had obvious implications for freedom of speech and freedom of association. Besides the fact that the state had no compelling need for collecting a trove of donor information, the California attorney general’s office had previously handled private donor information negligently, making it available to the public online and thus placing targets on donors’ backs.

How would you like it if anyone could not only find which organizations you support financially but also discover where you live?

That’s why, just last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down California’s donor-disclosure requirement and confirmed how important it is for every American to support causes they believe in without having to fear harassment.

As Jeremy Tedesco, senior vice president of corporate engagement at ADF, wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “Fidelity Charitable should continue to work for the good of all its account holders, and society at large, by vigorously protecting philanthropic freedom.”

The protection of the First Amendment is at the heart of this issue, making it important for every American—not just those whom Unmasking Fidelity has targeted.

Fidelity Charitable now has a chance to stick to its guns and foster viewpoint diversity—and we’re hoping it will jump at the chance.


Caroline Roberts, Strategic Communications Writer

Caroline Roberts

Strategic Communications Writer

Caroline Roberts serves as a Strategic Communications Writer at Alliance Defending Freedom.


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