Million-pound donations on the rise, finds Coutts

Million-pound donations on the rise, finds Coutts

Expert opinion

A total of nearly £15bn has been donated in the UK by individuals, foundations and corporations over the past 10 years, according to the latest Coutts Million Pound Donors Report.  2016 also saw the highest total value given (£1.83bn) since the report began.

Tracking the number, size, source and destination of donations of £1m or more, the report analyses key trends in major philanthropy over the past decade, showing there has been a boom in philanthropy since the financial crisis. This growth is in part fuelled by the increasing number of initiatives designed to celebrate and inspire philanthropy, such as the Giving Pledge, but also by the development of specialist philanthropy advice. As recent research from Philanthropy Impact shows, people who receive such advice tend to give more.

The report provides food for thought for donors, advisers and charities alike. For example, while universities received the highest number of donations of £1m or more (600 in total), foundations received the highest total value of £5bn. This illustrates the enduring attraction of charitable trusts and foundations for individuals or corporations who seek to ‘bank’ their resources to then be distributed to charities, often in smaller amounts, as their strategy evolves. The report also shows there has been a surge in corporate philanthropy, increasing from £50m when the report began to £500m in 2016, and that there has been a growth in donations to UK charities from donors located overseas (from £9.8m to £263.5m).

Interestingly, while ‘mega-gifts’ (donations of over £100m) tend to capture the media headlines, giving exactly £1m is the most common donation.  Giving exactly one million appears to be economically and psychologically a significant figure, which resonates with both donors and charities.

In addition to the data, which has been gathered by the University of Kent, the report includes Top 10 Tips for donors, and Coutts’ analysis of key trends in philanthropy over the past 10 years. This analysis highlights both the increasing role of philanthropy advice and the implications for advisers of changing trends in the philanthropic landscape – from the rising interest in social investment to philanthropy’s strong links with wealthy families’ strategies for wealth succession planning and engaging the next generation.

Bringing the report to life are 12 inspiring interviews with major donors: Sir Terence Conran and his son Sebastian, Rory McIlroy, Liccy Dahl, Gordon Roddick, Shalni Arora, Sir Paul Ruddock, the Coins Foundation, the Coutts Foundation, the Stone Family Foundation, Clive and Sylvia Richards, Sir Ian Wood and Lady Carole Bamford. 

Each of these interviews illustrates that philanthropy is driven by people’s passions, values, concerns about the world or visions for a better society or environment. They also show the distinctive role philanthropy can play, from tackling the causes and consequences of poverty, supporting innovation, holding powerful institutions to account and enriching our lives through support for arts and culture. 

To read the report in full go to and join the conversation on social media #millionpounddonors

This expert opinion is tagged under:

  • Inspirational donations
  • Philanthropy stats & trends
  • Promoting philanthropy
  • Understanding philanthropy