The total value of UK charitable donations of more than £1m fell by 15 per cent this year, according to the fourth annual Coutts Million Pound Donors report.
The report, by Beth Breeze, researcher at the Centre for Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice at the University of Kent, says that the total amount of known donations worth £1m or more was about £1.3bn in 2009/10, compared with about £1.54bn in 2008/09 – a fall of £236m.
The number of separate donations of £1m or more was also down, the report says, from 201 in 2008/09 to 174 in 2009/10. Both the total amount given and the number of donations are the lowest figures since the report was first published in 2006/07.
The report points out, however, that the data-set is small, so fluctuations might occur because of decisions made by a few donors.
Of the 174 donations, 80 were made by individual donors, contributing 60 per cent of the £1.3bn total, the report says.
A total of 154 organisations received million-pound donations in 2009/10, according to the report. It says that 48 per cent of the total value of donations was "banked" in foundations rather than "spent" on charitable activity, up from 36 per cent being given to foundations in 2008/09.
The report says this is indicative of a "widespread desire to undertake philanthropy in a formal and organised way".
International development was the most popular cause area for gifts made by individuals, after money given to foundations was excluded, accounting for 29 per cent of gifts, according to the report. This was followed by arts and culture, which received 18.5 per cent of gifts in 2009/10.
Maya Prabhu, head of UK philanthropy at Coutts, said the overall fall in donations was expected.
"Not only is it consistent with figures emerging from other studies for UK charitable giving, it mirrors the general sentiment in the economy and financial markets in the year 2009/10, the impact of a fall in wealth creation events and of philanthropists increasing the length of their decision-making processes by becoming more strategic," she said.