Million-pound donations reach highest level in UK since 2008

The Coutts Million Pound Donor Report, co-written by Beth Breeze of the University of Kent, reveals that the value of million-pound gifts in 2012 was £1.35bn

Beth Breeze
Beth Breeze

The total value of UK charitable donations worth £1m or more have reached their highest level since the start of the financial downturn, according to the latest Million Pound Donor Report by Coutts.

The report, published today and produced by the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, says the value of donations received in the calendar year 2012 increased by 9 per cent to £1.35bn, the most since before the start of the downturn in 2008.

Last year’s report, which covered the 2010/11 financial year, found that the total worth of charitable donations of £1m or more had fallen to £1.2bn – their lowest level in five years.

In 2012, the average donation size increased and 56 per cent of all gifts were worth £2m or more, the report says.

But the overall number of gifts of £1m or more fell from 232 in 2010/11 to 197 in 2012.

Beth Breeze, director of the Centre for Philanthropy and co-author of the report, said the figures showed that giving was "back to business as usual" before the downturn. 

"I think the figures show £1m-plus donations in the UK are buoyant," she said. "The people who are giving at this level are making a significant contribution, and for the charities receiving these kinds of figures they are transformational.

"It is not always that people don’t have the money. Financial security or insecurity are key when it comes to giving on this scale."

Higher education remained the most popular cause for high-value gifts, accounting for 42 per cent of all donations in 2012. Big donations to arts and culture fell slightly from 8 per cent of all donations in 2010/11 to 7 per cent in 2012.

According to the report, foundations were responsible for 71 per cent of the donations; 22 per cent were made by individuals. Gifts from corporations made up only 7 per cent of these donations, down from 16 per cent in 2010/11.

The report points out that this is in line with research by the Directory of Social Change, which found corporate giving in the UK had fallen.

This year, for the first time, Coutts has produced an international Million Dollar Donors Report, looking at $1m-plus gifts in the US, Russia, the Middle East, China and Hong Kong.

It says that 889 donors gave $14bn in 2012 in the US; 172 donors made donations totalling $1.2bn in China; 18 donors gave $239m in Russia; 25 donors gave $727m in the Middle East; and 47 donors gave $877m in Hong Kong. This compares with the UK figure of 98 donors giving $2.14bn (£1.35bn). 

Across all six regions, 37 per cent of the $19bn of $1m-plus donations went to higher education, and 46 per cent of all donations were made by individuals.

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