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2014 saw most million pound plus donations in one year, says Coutts Million Pound Donor Report

2014 saw most million pound plus donations in one year, says Coutts Million Pound Donor Report

In 2014 there were 298 charitable donations worth £1 million or more, according to the annual Coutts Million Pound Donor Report, produced in association with the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent. This is the most in one year in the eight years that the Coutts study has been conducted.

The million pound plus donations were together worth £1.56 billion.

The proportion of larger donations had increased by 15% compared to 2013, with an average mean value of £5.3 million.

Coutts Million Pound Donor report 2015 - chart

Who gives and receives these major gifts?

Coutts Million Pound Donor report 2015 - chart

Million pound donations are most likely to be given to higher education and charitable trusts and foundations. These kind of organisations received over two thirds of the total value.

During 2014, however, there was a shift with the largest share (36%) being donated to charitable trusts and foundations. Nevertheless, higher education institutions received the second largest share, each worth at least £26 million.

The University of Oxford and University of Cambridge were particularly successful at securing major gifts. A total of 35 universities received donations of one million pounds or more, but Oxford and Cambridge received at least 11 and 10 respectively.

“Total value returning to levels last seen before the financial crash”

Coutts Million Pound Donation Report 2015 - totals over the years

2014 was a record year for £1m + gifts


Dr Beth Breeze, Director of the Centre for Philanthropy and co-author of the UK report said:

“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”.

She put the findings in the context of the public and media criticism of some charities and some fundraising practices this year, adding:

“Much of that debate has failed to appreciate the difference between mass-marketing aimed at “high volume, low-value donors”, and the very different approach used to build personalised, authentic, and mutually beneficial relationships with those who have the capacity and the inclination to make major donations.”

She added that it was exciting “to see the total value return to levels last seen before the financial crash”.

Lenka Setkova, Executive Director, Coutts Institute, commented on the positive longer term implications of the report’s findings :

‘The eighth annual Coutts Million Pound Donors Report illustrates that major philanthropy continues to grow and thrive in the UK as the total amount given increased by £200 million and the number of donations was the highest we have ever recorded. The high proportion of funds given to charitable trusts and foundations indicates that major donors are continuing to organise their giving for the longer term.”

The report is available in print in summary format and online at Coutts Million Dollars Donors Report. It includes interviews with major donors, giving insight into their values, interests and visions for their philanthropy.

Part of global major gift research

Coutts has published the Million Pound Donors Report since 2008. In 2013 it expanded its coverage to include donations of $1 million or more in the USA, Russia, Middle East (GCC), China and Hong Kong. Last year it added Singapore to the list, and this year it is including South Africa, plus some case studies from India.


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of Research massive growth in giving.

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