While the volume of million pound donations in the UK edged up by 2% in 2014 (from 292 to 298 gifts), their overall value rose by a more notable £200m over the previous year, increasing from £1.36bn to £1.56bn.

Just over half of this amount was the result of a single gift of £105m; there was nothing of a similar size in 2013, demonstrating the ‘lumpy’ nature of this data. Yet even accounting for this, the proportionally larger increase in the value of donations compared to the volume indicates that donors gave slightly more generously than the previous year.

That said, most of the major trends of previous years continued: universities and foundations were still the most popular beneficiaries, though foundations took pole position in 2014. The vast majority of million pound donors also lived in London, while the importance of international donors continued, exemplified by a £60m donation to Great Ormond Street Hospital by Her Highness Sheikh Fatima bint Mubarak of the United Arab Emirates.

As in 2013, the distribution of donor types in 2014 was marked by a dramatic rise in the number and value of mega-gifts from corporations or corporate foundations. Donations made by individuals also showed signs of recovery after an unprecedented fall in 2013.

Number and value of Million Pound Donations

The number of million pound donations in the UK in 2014 continued to rise from the low point of the 2007 financial crisis.



Total value of donations worth £1m+


Total number of donations of £1m+

In 2014, 150 donors made 298 charitable donations worth a million pounds or more, with a total value of £1.56bn. This is an increase in number of just over 2% compared to 2013 and a handsome 15% rise in the total value.

As with the previous year, 2014 saw a large number of donors giving for the first time. There were 33 new donors, with the figures excluding those who directly appeared in previous reports, as well as any who might be synonymous with each other. For example, individual business owners and their businesses, or individuals and their personal foundations.

Average size of Million Pound Donations

The average donation size in 2014 was 15% higher than in 2013.

The size of the average million pound donation in 2014 increased by £0.7m or 15% over the previous year, consistent with the small rise in cases versus the larger overall value of donations. 

The mean value of donations was £5.3m, while the median (the middle value when all cases are placed in ascending order) and mode (the most commonly appearing value) remained at £2m and £1m respectively.  



in 2014


in 2013


in 2012



in 2014


in 2013


in 2012



in 2014


in 2013


in 2012

Value of Million Pound Donations

The largest donation in 2014 was £105m.

Some 11% (34 cases) of 2014’s donations were eight-figure sums, with the largest being £105m. This mega-gift buoyed the mean value, despite an increase in donations worth exactly £1m (representing 15% or 46 cases of the total number of donations, compared to 13% or 39 cases in 2013).


Source of Million Pound Donations

Corporate and individual philanthropy contributed a greater share of the total value in 2014, leaving foundation giving at a lower proportion compared to 2013.

Donations from corporations continued to recover from their decline in 2012, and far exceeded any previous contributions. Between 2008 and 2011, corporations accounted for around 10% of the total value of gifts in each year, while in 2013 this figure hit 15%. In 2014 it rose by almost 8 percentage points to nearly 23% of the overall value.

As in 2013, these figures were the result of continued philanthropic activity by established firms such as Goldman Sachs, GlaxoSmithKline and Shell, as well as a number of new entrants and their associated foundations. Of particular note was Hillside (New Media) Limited, with a grant of £105m to set up the Bet365 Foundation, which has so far donated to a range of local and international causes including aid, medical research and disaster relief. 

Meanwhile, the value of gifts by individuals made great strides towards recovery after a dramatic fall in 2013, rising from 18% (£239m) to 25% (£389m) of the total value. While most gifts remained less than £2m, the number of grants over £10m doubled to ten in 2014. This included the second-highest donation in the dataset, worth £60m, which went to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Many of the larger-value gifts in this category were the result of individuals donating to their personal foundations; this may be indicative of the recent trend among high-net-worth donors to pledge their fortunes to charity before their death.

With the increase in both corporate and individual donations, inevitably those from foundations and trusts decreased as a percentage of the total. Giving by this sector fell by 16 percentage points, from 67% of the total value in 2013 to 51% in 2014. However, there was also a significant decrease in the actual value of donations to £790m, a deficit of £125m in comparison to 2013. In the previous year 21 gifts in this category were worth more than £10m, including three at or above the £50m mark; 2014 saw 14 gifts of £10m or more, with only one topping £50m. 




51% of total value in 2014





25% of total value in 2014





23% of total value in 2014

Location of Million Pound Donations

London remained the main source of million pound donations.

London retained its status as the centre of UK philanthropy, producing the vast majority of million pound donations (192 of the 298 gifts, from 74 different donors). The capital accounted for just over two thirds of the total value, equating to £1.05bn. 

13 donations came from donors based in the North West, and the same number originated from the North East (comprising 6.5% and 2% respectively of the total value), with the South East also reaching double figures (10 gifts from donors in the South East made up 5% of the total value).  

International donors also played an important role in UK philanthropy with the second-largest donation of the year, £60m, coming from the United Arab Emirates. In total, 20 donations came from outside the UK, from 10 different countries, accounting for just over 9% or £144m of the total value. However, this does mark both a proportional and actual decrease from 2013’s figures when seven-figure donations from overseas amounted to £190m and accounted for 14% of the total value. 



67% London

6.5% North West

5% South East

2.5% Wales

2% North East

1.5% Yorkshire

1% East

1% Northern Ireland

1% South West

1% West Midlands

0.5% East Midlands

0.5% Scotland

* Known for 262 of the UK-based donations

Recipients of Million Pound Donations

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

As with previous years, it was unusual for an organisation to receive more than one gift of a million pounds or more. A total of 243 recipients received the 298 donations, though 29 organisations received more than one. Twenty recipients received two, and the remainder each received three or more gifts. As in 2013, the latter were mostly foundations and universities, though two health-orientated charities also received three or more gifts, and several environmental and heritage organisations were awarded two or more.


total recipients

in 2014

Distribution of Million Pound Donations

Foundations overtook higher education, receiving the largest percentage of the total value.

As in previous years, higher education and charitable trusts and foundations were the main destinations for million pound donations, together attracting over two-thirds of the total value. However, in contrast to 2013, the largest share (36%) went to charitable trusts and foundations. Such a change is unsurprising given the increase in corporate donors, who tend to donate to their associated foundations. This shift may also be influenced by the decrease in donations given by foundations, as higher education institutions (HEIs) typically receive a large number of donations from this source.

However, HEIs still received five of the ten largest donations, which were each worth at least £26m. The University of Oxford received two of the ten most generous donations, with the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and University of Edinburgh each receiving one. Of the remaining five donations, four went to foundations and the last was received by a health-based charity.

A total of 35 universities received donations of a million pounds or more, with the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge receiving 11 and 10 respectively. However, UK philanthropy is not limited to the Oxbridge universities; eight non-Oxbridge HEIs also received more than one donation, and collected eight of the twelve gifts of £10m or more (UCL received two gifts of this type).






298 gifts of £1m+




86 gifts of £1m+


Higher Education


65 gifts of £1m+




28 gifts of £1m+


International [1]


25 gifts of £1m+


Overseas [2]


22 gifts of £1m+


Human Services


19 gifts of £1m+


Arts, culture & humanities


23 gifts of £1m+




8 gifts of £1m+


Environment & animals


8 gifts of £1m+


Education (not universities)


9 gifts of £1m+


Public & societal benefit


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.