The total value of million dollar donations jumped by a third in 2014.
The overall value of million dollar donations in 2014 was $3.61bn, an increase of 36.23% over the previous year. While the actual number of donations remained similar to 2013, the overall value was heavily inflated by a single $2.37bn gift.
Corporations contributed more than three fifths of the number of donations, while individuals accounted for over a quarter. Geographically, donations were concentrated in the Southern and Eastern regions – China’s most developed areas.
Foundations, higher education and government remained the most popular recipients in 2014, though environmental protection causes also appear to have become more attractive to major donors. Nearly 70% of recipients received a single million dollar gift, while two projects received more than ten donations (the protection of water supplies and the Guangdong Poverty-Alleviation Day).
Number and total
A single gift in 2014 was almost equal to the entire value of donations recorded in 2013.
There were 208 donations identified in China last year worth a million dollars or more, amounting to $3.61bn. In 2013, the equivalent figure was $2.65bn.
Average size of million dollar donations
The average donation value was higher in 2014, boosted by one exceptional gift.
The average (mean) size of million dollar donations in 2014 was $17.37m – some two-fifths higher than a year earlier thanks to a very large gift of £2.37bn.
However, the mean is easily skewed by outliers, and the median (middle value when all are placed in ascending order) was a third less than 2013, at $2.21m. Similar to 2013, the mode (most frequent value) was $1.63m – probably explained by the fact that the figure is equivalent to about RMB10m (a round figure being a natural psychological threshold for high-net-worth giving in China).
Value of million dollar donations
One gift accounted for over 60% of the value of all million dollar donations in 2014.
The largest donation (and the only one that topped $100m) was the $2.37bn gift made by Jack Ma, lead founder of Alibaba Group, the pioneer of ecommerce in China. This accounted for 66% of the entire value of million dollar donations in 2014.
Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, co-founders of Alibaba Group, announced the establishment of personal charitable trusts funded by their share options (about 2% of Alibaba’s equity) in 2014. Their philanthropic activities will be focused on the environment, medical treatment, education and culture in China, Hong Kong and abroad.
Nearly half of million dollar donations in China in 2014 were valued at $1-$2m. Among the rest, more than a third were in the $2-$10m range.
Source of million dollar donations
Corporations (including corporate foundations) accounted for over 60% of donations, while individuals contributed more than 70% of the overall value.
Corporations and corporate foundations still provided the greatest number of million dollar gifts, sourcing 64% (compared to 72% in 2013). The number of donations from foundations increased from 4% to 9% in 2014 – a small but encouraging advance.
In terms of value, the source of donations in 2014 differed markedly over 2013. More than 70% came from individuals (eight times the 2013 total) – a similar proportion to that provided by corporations and corporate foundations in 2013. This was chiefly the result of the bumper donation given by Jack Ma to his private charitable trust fund, the largest in China to date.
Other points of note were the sharp slide in the value of donations from corporations and corporate foundations, by 67.77% over 2013 levels, and the near doubling of funds from foundations. This may be a sign of a small but steady advance in the development of foundations in China.
Location of million dollar donations
Most donors were concentrated in the Eastern regions.
Pinpointing the location of million dollar donors in China can be difficult, as large companies and wealthy individuals often have several addresses. However, using what we believe to be the primary address for each donor, we found that about a third of donations and three quarters of their value came from sources in the Eastern regions (using the definition of regions by China’s Ministry for Civil Affairs). The reason behind this particular concentration last year was Jack Ma’s donation. Elsewhere, the North, South and overseas each contributed 5-6% in the value of donations.
In terms of number of gifts, the East region still accounts for the most, followed by the South. As in 2013, together they made up over half the number of donations, although the South’s contribution dropped from the previous year.
Donors from the Northern and Central parts of China contributed 16% and 10% of the number of gifts, respectively. Consistent with 2013, the donors from the North were mainly from Beijing, while the geographical distribution of donors within other regions was relatively dispersed.
 The regions referred to are as defined by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. Special administrative regions are defined as ‘overseas’ for the purpose of this report
Recipients of million dollar donations
Nearly 70% of recipients received a single million dollar gift, while two projects received more than ten donations each.
There were 99 different organisations or projects that enjoyed million dollar donations in 2014, with 68 of these receiving them from a single donor.
Some 29 recipients received between two and ten donations, while a water treatment project in Zhejiang received 15 and Guangdong Poverty-Alleviation Day saw 20 gifts. Fortunately, there were no disasters like the devastating Ya’an earthquake of 2013, which meant that 2014’s beneficiaries were quite widely dispersed in comparison.
Northern, Eastern and Southern parts of China received 27%, 27% and 21% of the number of donations respectively. The geographical distribution of the recipients was similar to that of donors, with the Northeast and Northwest regions receiving relatively small numbers of gifts. As with 2013, three million dollar donations went overseas in 2014.
The East received over 70% of the total value of donations, again due to the mega-gift of $2.37bn. The North was next in line, in receipt of 10% of the value of donations.
Distribution of all million dollar donations
Foundations and higher education remained popular choices for donors, while environmental causes garnered greater attention than previous years.
Foundations and higher education remained popular causes, with the former receiving nearly three quarters of the overall funds (due to the billion dollar mega gift). A third of donations and 16% of the overall value were channelled into higher education.
Government (mainly government-dominated charities and activities) received 21% of the total number of donations, and these gifts were largely directed towards poverty alleviation and regional development.
Environmental and animal conservation attracted increasing attention, receiving million dollar donations for the first time since the report commenced in 2012. This category was awarded 7% of the total number of donations and 1% of the total value. Moreover, environmental protection was one of the major areas of focus of Jack Ma’s new private charitable trust, so we can expect to see increased activity as this begins to disburse its funds.