UK million-pound donations fall to lowest level in five years, report shows

The Coutts Million Pound Donor Report, co-written by Beth Breeze of the University of Kent, reveals there were 232 donations worth £1m or more - totalling £1.2bn - in 2010/11

Beth Breeze
Beth Breeze

The value of UK charitable donations worth £1m or more totalled £1.2bn in 2010/11 – the lowest level for five years – according to a report by the wealth management company Coutts. 

The annual Coutts Million Pound Donor Report, published today and produced by the Centre for the Study of Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice at the University of Kent, says there were a total of 232 charitable donations worth £1m or more in 2010/11, which was the highest number since the survey began in 2006/07 and up by 58 gifts on last year’s figures.

But the total value of those donations fell 7 per cent from £1.3bn in 2009/10. The figure is down from the pre-recession high of £1.6bn in 2006/07, the first year the research was carried out.

The latest report, which tracks the size, scale and recipients of donations worth £1m or more from individuals, trusts and corporations in the UK, found that 60 per cent of million-pound donations were given directly to charities and 40 per cent were placed into charitable trusts.

This was an increase from the 48 per cent of donations in 2009/10 that went straight to front-line charities.

Higher education, arts and culture and international development remain the most popular causes for the largest gifts from both individual and institutional donors, the report found.

In 2010/11, 191 organisations received million-pound donations, which increased from 154 the previous year. The majority, 86 per cent, received only one gift of this size. The organisations that received multi-million-pound donations were likely to be the oldest universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, or national arts and cultural institutions.

As in previous years, the most frequent size of donation is exactly £1m. In 2010/11, one individual donor made a nine-figure donation of more than £100m.

Beth Breeze, researcher from the Centre for the Study of Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice at the University of Kent and co-author of the report, said: "The best case scenario would have been a rise in donors and the total amount donated.

"But I think it is better to have an expanded donor pool. It is healthier having more people giving at this level – hopefully they will give more and to a wider variety of causes."

There is evidence that if people have a good experience they will increase their donation in the future, she said.


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