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Coutts: Almost a third of the largest charitable donations are gifted to higher education.

1,831 donations greater than $1 million, worth a total $24.5 billion were donated across eight international regions in 2014. Almost a third of this value, $7.58 billion, was gifted directly to universities and higher education institutions.

These are the findings of the third Coutts Million Dollar Donors Report, which tracks the number, size, and recipients of $1 million+ dollar donations given by individuals, foundations and corporations in the UK, USA, Russia, Middle East (Gulf Cooperation Council), China, Hong Kong, Singapore and for the first time, South Africa.

Donations to universities and higher education institutions are commonplace because of their ability to absorb large amounts and the wide appeal they have for major donors. Such gifts are often used, for example, to support a vast array of academic or scientific research; scholarships; or the building of new premises; as well as supporting the growth of university endowments.

The $24.5 billion represents a $2.8 billion drop in value and fewer donations compared to the 1,995 donations worth $26.3 billion seen in last year's report. The underlying data shows this resulted from declines in donations from the USA, Russia, Singapore and the Middle East. By contrast, regions including the UK, China and Hong Kong have seen a substantial increase in the relative level of donations.

The nature and stage of philanthropy varies greatly by region, so direct comparisons would be misleading. Nevertheless, there are a number of trends worth noting:

Key international findings are:

Higher Education remains most popular recipient - Looking at the total across all report regions, higher education was again top of the list in terms of both the number of donations and the greatest value, receiving $7.58 billion from 798 donations. In terms of value received the arts, culture and humanities jumped three places up the list and received over half a billion dollars more as a sector than in the previous year.

Individuals give more money in total than foundations and corporations - Individual donors gave 59 per cent of the $24.5 billion donated across all regions. Foundations accounted or 25 per cent of the donations and Corporations 16 per cent.

Foundations as recipients - This year, we noted that foundations were the second most popular destination for million dollar donations receiving $6.77 billion from 168 donations. Donations to foundations are a sign of philanthropists, whether private or corporate, 'banking' gifts for distribution over time, which in some cases may be in the form of an endowment.

Local Giving - As we have noted in previous years, the majority of million dollar donations tend to be directed within the region from which they originated. The Middle East continues to be an exception, where 96 per cent of the total value of donations recorded in the Middle East report were directed overseas (outside the GCC) in 2014. Disaster relief, human services and international aid were the most popular causes.

Donors are concentrated around major cities - 2014's figures revealed a concentration of major donors around large cities and economic hubs. London remained the centre of UK giving, with 67 per cent of the value of million dollar donations originating here. For China the eastern region around the municipality of Shanghai was significant, with 74 per cent of the value of donations originating here. In contrast to 2013, Russia's major donors were increasingly concentrated in and around Moscow. Similarly, South Africa's donors were principally based in and around Johannesburg and Cape Town. The US is a notable exception, with million dollar donors relatively evenly spread across the country.

Lenka Setkova, Executive Director, Coutts Institute, said, "Major philanthropy plays an important role in strengthening social, cultural and economic development around the world. The 2015 Coutts Million Dollar Donors Report tracked 1,831 donations worth an impressive $24.5 billion across eight regions last year. Whilst these numbers are lower than the previous year, overall it is evident that major philanthropy remains strong and in certain regions, including the UK, China and Hong Kong where it has grown substantially. This report provides valuable insight into trends in million dollar giving and explores some of the factors that shape philanthropy in each of our featured regions. It also includes interviews with many inspiring donors who have shared their very personal motivations for and experience of philanthropy."

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Publication:CPI Financial
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Nov 16, 2015
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