Million-Dollar-Plus Gifts Total $26.3 Billion, Study Finds

Philanthropic gifts of at least $1 million in seven regions around the globe totaled $26.3 billion in 2013, a report from Coutts, the wealth division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, finds.

Based on an analysis of million-dollar-plus gifts made in China ($2.65 billion), Hong Kong ($935 million), the Middle East ($1.84 billion), Russia ($1.01 billion), Singapore ($713 million), the United Kingdom (£1.36 billion/$2.18 billion), and the United States ($16.92 billion), the Million Dollar Donors Report 2014 found that individuals gave more (45 percent of the total) than foundations or corporations overall and were the largest source of million-dollar-plus gifts in the U.S. and Russia; that foundations were the largest source of such gifts in the UK and Hong Kong; and that corporations were the largest source in China, the Middle East, and Singapore.

Produced in partnership with an institution in each of the regions analyzed, including the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the report also found that institutions of higher education received the largest share of $1 million-plus gifts overall — $9.06 billion, or 34 percent of the total — followed by foundations, which received $4.78 billion (18 percent), nearly twice as much as in 2012.

In the U.S., while the number of million-dollar-plus gifts fell from 1,408 in 2012 to 1,173 in 2013, very large gifts from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and others pushed the total to its highest level since 2008 (2,356 gifts totaling $21.73 billion) — with the mean average in gift size jumping from $9.9 million in 2012 to $14.4 million. Higher education received 43 percent of the total ($7.25 billion), up from 40 percent ($5.62 billion) in 2012.

"While philanthropy is a lagging economic indicator, in the U.S., we are seeing an increase in the total value of million-dollar-plus gifts, even though the number of donors declined compared to 2012," said Una Osili, director of research for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. "The average size of gifts at this level rose 45 percent last year, suggesting that ultra-high-net-worth donors may be seeing their financial fortunes recover more quickly than those of other wealthy donors. It is important to recognize, however, that every gift is hugely significant to both the donor and the recipient."

"International Million Dollar Donors Report Examines Giving in Seven Regions." Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Press Release 11/03/2014. "2014 Million Dollar Donors Report." Coutts Report 11/03/2014.