The number of million pound donations in the UK rose by almost 50% in 2013 when compared with the previous year. However, there was only a very modest increase in the total value of donations.

The number of million pound donations in the UK rose by almost 50% in 2013 when compared with the previous year. However, the rise in the total value of donations was much smaller, edging up from £1.35bn to £1.36bn. The reasons behind this unusual development appear to be two-fold: there were a greater number of smaller donations in 2013 (at the million pound mark or just over) but, unlike in previous years, there were no gifts of £100m or more.

Most of the major trends of previous years continued: universities were still the most popular beneficiaries and the vast amount of million pound donors lived in London. That said, the largest gift in 2013 came from overseas (£75m), highlighting the role that international donors play in UK philanthropy.

One notable difference in 2013 was the increasing proportion of corporations or corporate foundations providing mega-gifts. Their share of million pound donations rose dramatically in the year, while that of individual donors fell sharply.

Number and value of Million Pound Donations

The number of million pound donations in the UK in 2013 continued the upward trend seen since the low point of the financial crisis in 2007.



Total value of donations worth £1m+


Total number of donations of £1m+

In 2013, 166 donors made 292 charitable donations worth a million pounds or more, with a total value of £1.36bn. Significantly, this is almost a 50% increase in the number of million pound donations compared to 2012 – although only a slight (1%) year-on-year increase in the total value.

Average size of Million Pound Donations

2013 saw a growing number of first-time million pound donors.

The size of the average million pound donation in 2013 was lower than in recent years. This could be linked to the increased number of first-time donors, who are more likely to give nearer the lower end of the scale.

The mean value of donations was £4.6m and the median (the middle value when all are placed in ascending order) was £2m. The absence of any nine-figure donations, which were a feature of previous years, brought down the 2013 average. 




in 2013


in 2012



in 2013


in 2012



in 2013


in 2012

Value of Million Pound Donations

The largest donation in 2013 was £75m.

Almost 11% (31) of 2013’s donations were eight-figure sums (£10m or more), with the largest being £75m. However, the mean figure was lower than in 2012 because there were a larger than usual number of gifts that just qualified as million pound donations; 39 (13% of the total number) were worth exactly £1m.


Source of Million Pound Donations

Corporate philanthropy moved up a gear in 2013, though individual donations fell significantly.

Donations from corporations in 2013 recovered after a drop in 2012. In every edition of this report from 2008-2011 corporations accounted for around 10%, of the total value but in 2013 they hit a high of 15%. This is the result of continued strong philanthropic activity by established firms such as British Gas, Shell and HSBC, along with multi-million pound donations by new entities such as Nominet UK, the domain name registry .

By contrast, the percentage of gifts by individuals fell from 32% (£428m) in 2012 to only 18% (roughly £240m). This is a considerable drop, which is more likely a result of a shift in the method of giving rather than any decline in the generosity of individuals. The vast majority of gifts categorised as ‘individual’ are for less than £2m, but 21 of the gifts made through charitable trusts and foundations are worth £10m or more, including three worth £50m or more.




67% of total value in 2013





18% of total value in 2013





15% of total value in 2013

Location of Million Pound Donations

Donors from London continued to dominate mega-gifts.

London kept its status as the centre of UK philanthropy, producing the vast majority of million pound donors (169 donations). Together with those from the South East, they accounted for roughly three-quarters of the cumulative value of million pound donations last year. The only other region where the number of donations exceeded 10 was the North West (16), accounting for 6.5% of the total value.

However, it is worth noting that the largest single donation came from outside the UK. The £75m gift to Oxford University was from the Geneva-based McCall MacBain Foundation, set up by a Canadian couple. This is a striking illustration of the importance of donations from overseas. Indeed, 19 donations, making up 14% of the total value, were made from nine countries outside the UK.



69% London

8.5% South East

6.5% North West

4% East

3% North East

2% Scotland

2% West Midlands

2% East Midlands

1% South West

0.5% Yorkshire

0.5% Wales

1% Northern Ireland

* Known for 246 of the UK-based donations

Recipients of Million Pound Donations

Million pound donations were well spread, with few organisations receiving more than one.

Not surprisingly, it was unusual for an organisation to receive more than one gift of a million pounds or more. A total of 241 recipients received the 292 donations. However, 28 organisations did receive more than one donation: 19 got two each, and the remaining nine that received three or more were either universities or major brand charities.


total recipients

in 2013

Distribution of Million Pound Donations

Higher education again attracted the lion’s share of million pound donations.

As in previous years, higher education and charitable trusts and foundations were the main destinations for million pound donations, together attracting almost two-thirds (64%) of the total value.

The biggest share (41%) went to higher education institutions (HEIs), which received seven of the ten largest donations, all worth at least £30m. A total of 33 universities received seven-figure donations and 11 of these saw more than one donation of this size. Oxford received 12 such gifts and Cambridge was given seven, though nine non-Oxbridge HEIs accepted at least one eight-figure gift.

Foundations also remained a popular choice, with 23% of donations either used to set up or to top up charitable trusts and foundations. As noted in previous reports, not all the money from these gifts is available immediately as it is largely ‘banked’ for distribution over time; the continuing strong flow of funds into these giving vehicles is a guarantee of future support for charitable organisations.






292 gifts of £1m+


Higher Education


65 gifts of £1m+




78 gifts of £1m+


International [1]


29 gifts of £1m+


Arts, Culture & Humanities


25 gifts of £1m+




19 gifts of £1m+


Human Services


24 gifts of £1m+


Overseas [2]


22 gifts of £1m+


Education (not universities)


16 gifts of £1m+




3 gifts of £1m+


Public & societal benefit


7 gifts of £1m+




4 gifts of £1m+


[1] The ‘International’ category here refers to funding for international development, regardless of the location of the recipient charity. This is in line with the classification used in the Million Pound Donors Report since 2008, but different to the definition of ‘International’ used to categorise donations in the other regions. In the other regions, ‘International’ is based solely on geographical factors and refers to donations to organisations headquartered in the reporting region but whose work takes place primarily outside that region.

[2] ‘Overseas’ relates to recipients based in a country other than the UK.