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This is the first report of its kind to track the scale and nature of donations of $1m or more (30m roubles or more) given by Russian philanthropists.

Looking at the period between 2011 and 2012, Coutts commissioned CAF Russia to track donations emanating from individuals or foundations.

We believe our findings represent the tip of the iceberg of Russian philanthropy. In part this is due to the lack of available information about major philanthropists in Russia, and also to the fact that our research did not look at corporate philanthropy. However, our findings show that philanthropy has taken firm root in the lives of many wealthy Russian individuals and families. 

Number and value of million dollar donations

A total of 35 charitable donations worth $1m or more were identified in 2012, with a combined value of $239m. In 2011, 52 gifts were identified totalling $306m. 

The largest gift identified in 2011 was worth over $74m. In 2012, the largest gift was valued at over $65m.



Total value of donations worth $1m+


Total number of $1m+ donations



Total value of donations worth $1m+


Total number of $1m donations

Distribution of million dollar donations

Russian million dollar donations were distributed across many subsectors, which varied significantly from 2011 to 2012.

In 2011, the arts, culture, and humanities subsectors received three separate gifts that totalled nearly $80m, and comprised over one-quarter of the total dollar value of identified gifts. Higher education received the next largest total with around 10% of the total value of gifts, followed by religious organisations. Although other subsectors are well represented, they do not comprise a large percentage of the total value of gifts.

In 2012, public and societal benefit organisations received three gifts worth a total of nearly $75m, which made up the largest portion (31%) of the value of gifts given in 2012. This is followed by gifts to foundations at 23% and higher education at 8% of the total value of gifts. Figures for 2012 were clearly influenced by the largest donation of $65m, categorised within public and societal benefit. 

Although they did not make up a large portion of overall million dollar giving in Russia, it is important to note that a number of gifts went overseas in both 2011 and 2012. These gifts show incredible diversity in the countries and causes to which they were given. A few examples of these overseas gifts serve to highlight the variety of countries and causes involved:

- Donations from members of the Armenian diaspora residing in Russia to a sustainable development fund in Armenia.

- A donation to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the US to support Russia-related -projects.

- A donation by an entrepreneur to support medical research around the world.

- A donation to the Wikimedia Foundation based in California.






35 gifts of $1m+

($306m in 2011)


Public & Societal benefit


3 gifts of $1m+

($21.6m in 2011)




8 gifts of $1m+

($22.5m in 2011)




2 gifts of $1m+

($61.2m in 2011)


Higher education


2 gifts of $1m+

($32m in 2011)


Overseas [2]


9 gifts of $1m+

($15m in 2011)


Education (not universities)


2 gifts of $1m+

($19.8m in 2011)


Human services


3 gifts of $1m+

($21.8m in 2011)


Arts, culture & humanities


2 gifts of $1m+

($78.5m in 2011)




3 gifts of $1m+

($29.4m in 2011)




1 gift of $1m+

($4.6m in 2011)

For examples of the types of activity that fall within the above categories, please see the methodology here.

Source of million dollar donations

Our research focused on two sources of million dollar donations: individuals and foundations (for information on corporate philanthropy, please see here).

In 2011, the number of gifts was split roughly evenly between individuals and foundations. However, individuals donated the majority of the value of gifts (72%). In 2012, individuals gave 71% of the identified gifts. As in 2011, individuals also gave the vast majority of the value of these gifts (89%). This indicates that for the two years shown, individuals were the most significant source of donations at this level, and that their gifts tended to be larger than donations from foundations. This suggests that Russian philanthropists have yet to institutionalise their philanthropy through the establishment of foundations or other appropriate structures.  




11% of total value in 2012




89% of total value in 2012

Some individual and foundation donors made more than one $1m-plus gift during each year. A total of 17 different million dollar donors were identified in 2011, including three anonymous donors, and 18 different donors were identified in 2012, including three anonymous donors. The majority of donors gave just one million dollar gift: 12 donors (71%) in 2011 and 13 donors (72%) in 2012.

In each year, however, a handful of donors gave larger numbers of gifts. For example, in 2012 one foundation gave seven separate million dollar gifts and in 2011, the same foundation increased its giving to 24 separate gifts of this size. 

Average size of million dollar donations

The average (mean) value of a ‘million dollar donation’ in 2012 was $6.8m. This compares to an average value of $5.9m in 2011. Even though the total number of donations dropped from 2011 to 2012, the average donation size rose.

Because the mean can be influenced by outliers (one or two very large gifts), we present the median as a useful indicator of the general donation size. In 2012, the median value of a million dollar donation was $2.6m, up slightly from $2.3m in 2011. This indicates that most gifts identified in both years fell within the same general dollar range, aside from a few outliers.

The mode is the number that occurs most frequently. In 2012, the mode of all gifts was $1m; in 2011, the mode was $2m. This means that in 2012, a number of donors gave gifts worth exactly $1m. This was not the case in 2011, perhaps indicating that $1m is only now emerging as a common size of gift.




in 2012


in 2011



in 2012


in 2011



in 2012


in 2011

Location of million dollar donations

It can be difficult to analyse the location of million dollar donors, as many wealthy individuals have multiple residences, and foundations and corporations may have multiple offices.

However, we have sought to establish the primary address for each donor and found that the vast majority of donors are based in Moscow (Central region). While Russia’s wealthy may be living or spending significant time outside of Russia, for the most part their businesses and foundations are in Russia, typically headquartered in Moscow. It is, however, worth noting that a number of private foundations are registered outside of Russia, for example in the UK or Switzerland.

In 2011, 86% of all identified gifts originated in Moscow (Central region), representing 93% of the value of gifts. In 2012, 74% of identified gifts were given by donors in Moscow, representing 86% of the value of gifts. A handful of gifts came from additional regions, but Moscow is clearly the most significant location in which million dollar donors reside.

Although Russia is made up of a larger number of geographic regions, the identified gifts come from a smaller number of these. In 2011, gifts came from three regions as well as overseas, and in 2012, gifts came from five regions as well as overseas. 



86%  Central

1%  Siberian

1%  Southern

2%  Volga

0.4%  Northwestern

9%  Overseas

1%  Unknown

Although million dollar gifts primarily originate in Moscow, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) receiving this funding are spread out across Russia and around the world. In 2011 and 2012, around half of the identified donations were directed to NGOs in Moscow (Central region).

In 2011, 54% of all identified gifts were given to NGOs in Moscow, representing 69% of the value of gifts. In 2011, 46% of all identified gifts were given to NGOs outside Moscow – 31% of the value of gifts. In 2012, 52% of identified gifts were given to NGOs outside Moscow, but they represented only 60% of the total value of the gifts: the consequence of large gift to Siberia. 

Although donations came from only a handful of geographic regions, they were directed to organisations in nearly every region of the country. In 2011, gifts were directed to NGOs in five regions as well as overseas; in 2012, gifts were given to seven regions as well as overseas.



40%  Central

27%  Siberian

1%  Southern

2%  Volga

2%  Northwestern

1%  North Caucasian

2%  Urals

8%  Overseas

17%  Unknown

Value of million dollar donations

The distribution of million dollar donations by value seems stable over 2011 to 2012.

In 2012, 37% of million dollar donations were worth up to $2m, compared with 42% in 2011. Some 49% of donations in 2012 were valued between $2m and $10m, compared to 48% in 2011.

This means that the majority of million dollar gifts were worth at least $2m, including 14% of gifts in 2012 worth $10m or more. 


Recipients of million dollar donations

A total of 33 organisations were recipients of million dollar gifts in 2011, and 27 organisations were recipients of gifts in 2012.[1] These organisations include NGOs as well as foundations.

The vast majority of these organisations received only one donation worth $1m or more in each year analysed: 27 NGOs (82%) in 2011 and 24 NGOs (89%) in 2012.

In each year, a handful of organisations received more than one gift. In 2011, two organisations each received four gifts, the highest number received by any one organisation. One of these organisations again received four gifts in 2012, the largest number received by any one NGO for that year.


total recipients

in 2012

[1] These numbers exclude eight cases in 2011 and two cases in 2012 in which a gift was given to a number of organisations to share, or where a recipient charity could not be identified.

Corporate philanthropy

There is little doubt that corporate philanthropy in Russia represents a major proportion of the philanthropic landscape.

What is distinctive about corporate philanthropy in Russia is that large companies established in what were originally relatively uninhabited or remote areas have played a pivotal role in developing these local areas and supporting their new inhabitants.

As in the case of philanthropy emanating from individuals or foundations, much corporate philanthropy emerged in a piecemeal and ad hoc manner. But at the turn of the century, Russian companies began to embrace the notion of corporate social responsibility (in part influenced by their Western counterparts) and developed more focused and sophisticated philanthropic programmes. For example, Rosbank developed the first organised grants programme in partnership with CAF Russia. Others that followed included Yukos, SUAL and Rusal. 

While accurate figures on the scale of corporate philanthropy do not exist, it may well dwarf philanthropy on the part of individuals and foundations. A quick scan of corporate philanthropy by CAF Russia suggests that:

- The Central geographic region (Moscow) is the most significant location in which corporate million dollar donors are headquartered

- Compared to individual and foundation donations, the value of $1m-plus donations by corporations are towards the higher end of the spectrum

- An increasing number of businesses are institutionalising their corporate philanthropy programmes through the establishment of corporate foundations

Marketing, PR or the strategies of local or federal governments often shape or encourage corporate philanthropy. However, it is worth noting that in some cases major shareholders who are philanthropists in their own right sometimes play a key role in introducing corporate philanthropy into their business, as in the case of Troika referenced in the interview with Ruben Vardanyan. Moreover, in some cases the distinction between corporate and individual philanthropy can be blurred, as some major philanthropists choose to channel their personal philanthropy through their business.