Number and value of million dollar donations
A total of 104 donations worth $1m or more were identified in Hong Kong in 2012, with a combined value of $877m.
The largest gift identified, worth over $257m, was donated by Dr Tin Ka Ping, founder of Tins Chemical Corporation Limited as well as the Tin Ka Ping Foundation. The gift was ‘banked’ in his own charitable foundation to be distributed to charitable causes at a later date. This one gift comprises nearly 30% of the value of all identified gifts.
 Although Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, million dollar gifts in Hong Kong seem different in key ways from gifts in mainland China, and are addressed here as a separate report. Note that gifts from donors in Hong Kong to charities in mainland China, and gifts from donors in mainland China to charities in Hong Kong, will be included in both databases, and there will necessarily be some overlap in certain categories of gifts.
Average size of million dollar donations
The average (mean) size of million dollar donations in 2012 was $8.4m. The mean can be influenced by outliers, and in this case it was influenced by the very large gift mentioned above.
The median (the middle value when all are placed in ascending order) and the mode (the most frequent value) are often viewed as helpful indicators of the ‘average’ donation size. In 2012 the median million dollar donation was $2.3m. The mode was around $1.3m. This is likely because $1.3m is worth about 10 million Hong Kong dollars, which is a natural threshold for high net worth giving in Hong Kong.
Value of million dollar donations
Some 44% of million dollar donations in Hong Kong in 2012 were valued between $1m and $2m.
Over half of million dollar donations were worth $2m or more, including 23% that were worth $10m and above. One donation was worth over $100m. As is often the case in giving at this level, this largest gift was ‘banked’ in a foundation for distribution over time, rather than given directly to front-line charities.
Source of million dollar donations
In 2012, 45% of identified million dollar gifts came from foundations, totalling about 40% of the value of all million dollar gifts.
Individuals contributed around one quarter of gifts (26%), but these comprised 45% of the total value of gifts. This indicates that the average gift by an individual tends to be larger than the average gift from a foundation. Part of the explanation for this is that the average size of individual gifts was affected by one outlier, the very large gift from an individual donor who ‘banked’ the sum in his own private foundation to be spent over time.
A number of corporate gifts (including gifts from corporate foundations) were also identified, comprising 28% of the gifts and around 15% of the total value of gifts. One gift from ‘various’ donor types was identified: given by a partnership of two individuals and one foundation, and kept separate from the other donor types.
A few individual and institutional (ie, corporation, foundation or charitable trust) donors gave multiple million dollar gifts in 2012. A total of 47 different million dollar donors were identified, including two anonymous donors. The vast majority of these donors – 38 donors, or 81% of unique donors – gave just one million dollar gift.
A handful of donors gave more than one gift. The donor that gave the largest number of million dollar gifts in 2012, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, gave 36 gifts at this level. These 36 gifts supported charities and projects in a number of areas, including hospitals, athletic clubs and universities.
Foundations are a major source of million dollar giving in Hong Kong. While there are always variations in how different countries and governments define foundations, those in Hong Kong seem relatively well established and have played a major role in million dollar philanthropy in the area.
One of the million dollar gifts was given by a partnership between two individuals and a foundation. This example shows that donors can join together and pool funds to give a larger donation. This also illustrates the benefit of creating a philanthropic circle among foundations and other donors – allowing them to share experiences or even to jointly vet and donate to various projects.
Location of million dollar donations
Due to the small geographic area of Hong Kong, we do not analyse the location of million dollar donors in depth. Nearly all identified gifts originated in Hong Kong. The only exceptions were two gifts from mainland China and one gift from Switzerland given to charities in Hong Kong.
In 2012, the largest portion of donations worth $1m or more were directed to charities within Hong Kong. Some 76% of the million dollar gifts went to Hong Kong, representing 83% of the total dollar amount. Charities in mainland China received 21% of the number of gifts, and two gifts were also sent to a higher education institution in the UK
This emphasis on mainland China as a key recipient of million dollar donations is emphasised not only by our data but also the case study interviews. Many donors in Hong Kong express a desire to ‘give back’ to charities in mainland China; for example, where the donors are from, or to impoverished areas.
The strong local focus (ie, the large majority of gifts remaining in Hong Kong) is also of interest given Hong Kong’s status as an international city. This may reflect both a widening poverty gap (as reflected by the Gini coefficient) and a number of domestic social issues. Many business executives also treat Hong Kong as their ‘home’ and would like to give back to Hong Kong society.
Recipients of million dollar donations
A total of 84 organisations received million dollar donations in 2012. These organisations include operating charities as well as charitable trusts and foundations.
The largest portion of recipient charities – 74 charities, or 88% of all unique organisations – was given just one donation of $1m or more.
In 2012, a handful of organisations received more than one million dollar donation. Two organisations, both higher education institutions, received six separate million dollar donations during 2012. These gifts went towards a number of purposes at the universities, such as scholarship funds and a variety of research centres.
 This number excludes one case in which a recipient charity could not be identified.
Distribution of million dollar donations
Million dollar donations in 2012 were distributed across a variety of different charitable causes.
The largest portion of these gifts – 33% of the total value – was ‘banked’ in foundations. The importance of the foundation subsector is due in large part to the highest-value gift identified, which was from one donor and directed to his own foundation. This gift alone brings foundations to the top of the list of subsectors.
The public and societal benefit subsector (which includes charities supporting civil rights and independent social and scientific research amongst others) and higher education institutions were nearly tied for second place in terms of the total value of million dollar donations. Higher education institutions received more gifts than public and societal benefit organisations (31 compared with 19), but the average gift to higher education was smaller.
The fourth-largest subsector by total value of million dollar gifts received was arts, culture, and humanities charities. These organisations received 13% of the total value of million dollar gifts. All other types of charity received 7% or less of the total value of gifts.
DISTRIBUTION ACROSS SUBSECTORS
These numbers emphasise the importance of foundations, not only as donors of million dollar gifts but also as recipient charities. At least relative to some other countries in the area, Hong Kong seems to have a vibrant foundations sector, which includes both operating foundations and grant-making foundations.
 ‘Overseas’ refers to charities headquartered outside of the country in question (ie, China including its special administrative regions) regardless of the purpose of the gift (eg, a donation from Hong Kong to a school or hospital in the UK).