Million-Dollar-Plus Gifts Totaled $24.5 Billion in 2014, Study Finds

Philanthropic gifts of at least $1 million in eight regions around the world totaled $24.5 billion in 2014, a report from Coutts, the wealth division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, finds.

Released in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the 2015 Million Dollar Donors Report (HTML) found that 1,831 gifts of at least $1 million were made to charitable causes in the United States ($14.1 billion), China ($3.61 billion), Hong Kong ($2.67 billion), the United Kingdom ($2.4 billion), the Middle East (Gulf Cooperation Council; $894 million), Russia ($406 million), Singapore ($536 million), and South Africa ($53 million), which made its first appearance on the list. The number of gifts and the dollar amount of those gifts fell slightly from the previous year, when 1,995 million-dollar-plus gifts totaling $26.3 billion were made in seven regions.

According to the report, individual donors gave 59 percent of the total, followed by foundations (25 percent) and corporations (16 percent). With the exception of the Middle East, where the vast majority of donations were directed overseas, more than 95 percent of the gifts and nearly 90 percent of their dollar amount were directed to charities within a donor's own country or region. The study also found that, in 2014, year-over-year growth in China and Hong Kong was fueled by "mega-grants" of more than $100 million, while in the Middle East and the U.S. total amounts fell significantly as some mega-gifts made in 2013 were not repeated.

As with the 2013 and 2014 reports, higher education remained the top priority for million-dollar-plus gifts, both in the number of donations (798) and dollar amount ($7.58 billion, or 34.4 percent). In addition, gifts for arts, culture, and humanities increased notably in 2014, up from $778 million in 2013, to $1.36 billion.

"Major philanthropy plays an important role in strengthening societal, cultural, and economic development around the world," said Coutts Institute executive director Lenka Setkova. "Whilst these numbers are lower than the previous year, it is evident that major philanthropy remains strong and in certain regions, including the UK, China, and Hong Kong, it has grown substantially."

"International Million Dollar Donors Report Examines Giving in Eight Regions Around the World." Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Press Release 11/16/2015.