Despite a still-fragile U.S. economy and persistently high unemployment, The Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, the nation's largest donor-advised fund program, said its donors supported charities in record numbers in 2010.

The Gift Fund's donors made more than 353,000 grants totaling more than $1.2 billion to non-profits across the country last year, up 19 percent and 14 percent, respectively, compared to 2009.

Fidelity said that both the 2010 figures represent the strongest year for outgoing donations to charities in the Gift Fund's history.

Moreover, 2010 was the fourth consecutive year that the Gift Fund's donors advised grants of more than $1 billion to the causes they support.

The Gift Fund also said that incoming charitable contributions exceeded $1.6 billion during 2010, representing a 42 percent increase over 2009.

With demands on the nation's charities as great as they've ever been, our donors gave at record levels in 2010 — something we hope is a leading indicator for overall charitable giving in the U.S., said Sarah Libbey, president of the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund.

The level of activity we saw this past year illustrates the growing role of donor-advised funds such as the Gift Fund in charitable giving and also is a clear signal that Americans remain deeply committed to supporting causes they care about.