More £1m donations made last year than ever before, says report

A total of 298 donations of £1m or more were made in 2014, according to the latest Million Pound Donors Report by Coutts

The report
The report

The number of UK charitable donations of £1m or more again reached a record high of 298 last year, according to the latest Million Pound Donors Report by Coutts.

Published today, the eighth edition of the report, which was co-authored by Beth Breeze, director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, found that 298 donations of £1m or more were made in 2014 – the highest number recorded since the report was first produced in 2008, and a slight increase on the 292 gifts recorded in 2013, which was itself a record at the time.

Produced annually, the report tracks the number, size, scale and destination of million-pound donations made in the UK by individuals, foundations and corporations.

The report says that the average value of such donations rose by 15 per cent from £4.6m to £5.3m in 2014, which it says suggests that large-scale philanthropy is rising, while the total value of such donations reached £1.56bn last year – up from £1.36bn the previous year and the highest level since 2006/07, when they totalled £1.62bn.

As in previous years, higher education and foundations were the main destinations for million-pound donations, together accounting for 67 per cent of the total value. Foundations received 36 per cent of donations, up from 23 per cent in 2013, and higher education institutions received five out of the 10 largest donations, each worth at least £26m.

Twenty-nine organisations out of 243 received more than one million-pound donation, and nine organisations – mostly foundations or universities – received three or more.

A total of 35 universities were identified that received donations of a million pounds or more, with the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge receiving at least 11 and 10 respectively and eight non-Oxbridge universities receiving more than one such donation.

The vast majority of donations came from London-based donors by both volume (192 of 298) and value (£1.05bn of £1.56bn). But the second-largest donation, at £60m, came from the United Arab Emirates and was given to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. The largest donation was £105m to establish the Bet365 Foundation.

Donations from corporations continued to recover from their decline in 2012 and far exceeded any previous contributions. In 2014 their total contribution increased by almost eight percentage points to nearly 23 per cent of the overall value given in the UK.

The UK findings form part of the wider Coutts Million Dollar Donors Report, which also covers the US, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Middle East, South Africa and India, and shows that $24.5bn worth of donations of $1m or more were made in 2014, down from $26.3bn the previous year.

Breeze said in a statement: "In this eighth year of tracking data on million-pound donations, it is exciting to find the highest-ever total number of seven-figure donations, and to see the total value return to levels last seen before the financial crash. It seems clear that donors’ confidence is recovering, and that charities are trusted to make good use of significant sums, despite the recent torrent of negative media headlines about fundraising practices."

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