Million pound donations in UK up by 9% says Coutts report

Million pound donations in UK up by 9% says Coutts report

The total value of donations worth £1m or more in the UK has increased by 9% to £1.35bn in 2012 according to research by Coutts.

Economic Analysis

13 November 2013

The 6th annual Coutts Million Pound Donors Report, in association with the University of Kent, found UK philanthropy is buoyant with the highest level of £1m plus donations in the UK since the financial crisis, rising 9% from 2011 to 2012.

The proportion of bigger donations also increased, with more than half of all million pound gifts being worth £2m or more.

Education is biggest beneficiary

Higher education remains the most popular destination for million pound donations, accounting for 42% or £570m of all million pound donations in 2012. Gifts to causes involving arts and culture fell slightly from 8% of all donations in 2010/11 to 7% in 2012.

The report found that with state funding to charities falling, donors are meeting this challenge in a number of ways, including working together to tackle emerging challenges, using all their assets to achieve goals and developing a rising interest in social investment.

International philanthropy

Coutts has also researched the donations of gifts worth $1m or more in the US, Russia, Middle East (Gulf Cooperation Council), China and Hong Kong in association with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy for the first time.

The international Million Dollar Donors Report found several similarities between philanthropy in the UK and that in other regions.

As in the UK, education gets the most money – 37% or $7.05bn of the total value of million dollar donations across the six regions was gifted to higher education institutions in 2012. Foundations were the second most frequent recipient of $1 million dollar gifts, receiving a total of $2.87 billion from across the six regions.

Individuals globally give more money than Foundations or Corporations – individual donors gave 46% of the $19.04 billion donated in all regions combined.

Charity begins at home

Donors also tended to focus on supporting organisations in their home country – overseas gifts account for just 5.6% of the total value of $1 million donations in all regions. However the Middle East bucked this trend with 71% of its $1 million gifts going abroad, mainly to non-GCC Arab countries.

Philanthropy is, for many wealthy families, a key dimension of wealth succession, regardless of which country they live in. A number of those interviewed for the report have committed a majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Mark Evans, Managing Director, Coutts Institute welcomed the chance to find out more about international philanthropists: " Not only is it clear that individuals, foundations and corporations who are giving at this level are making a significant impact in areas such as higher education, it's also an opportunity to learn why they are making these decisions and how.

“By understanding the causes and communities million dollar donors are passionate about, the ideas they have and the ways they like to work with others, we hope to inspire and inform philanthropists, charities and others at all levels."

The report is available at

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