2017 marks the 10th year of the Million Pound Donors Report, providing a rich insight into a decade of major philanthropy in the UK. To mark the anniversary we have undertaken a full analysis of all 10 years of data. You can find the full story, together with the stories of million-pound donors here.
Here we analyse data gathered on donations of £1m or more in the UK in 2016.
In 2016 the total value of million-pound donations in the UK reached its highest level since this report began, despite a slight decrease in the number of donations.
While the number of donations dipped to 310 (from 326 in 2015), the overall value remained high, thanks to a higher average donation value and a significant number of donations of over £25m.
Foundations continued to be the main source of donations of £1m or more, representing 55% of the overall value, but corporate donors significantly increased their giving to make their largest contribution to date – accounting for nearly a third of the overall value.
Once again, higher education and foundations received the lion’s share of donations, together accounting for 67% of the total value and 41% of the total number of donations. Higher education received the highest amount it has received since the report began (£656m).
While the majority of donations are still made from London, every part of the UK is represented in this 10th year report, with Scotland, the North East of England and the East and West Midlands in particular seeing an increase in donations. The important role of international donors continued, with the number of gifts arriving from outside the UK reaching its highest level ever.
Note on methodology:
To enable the effective analysis of 10 years of data for our 10 year anniversary report, we have reviewed and cleaned the complete dataset – for example, removing any duplicates, re-categorising some donations to different subsectors, and placing donations that only came to light in later years into their proper year.
As a result, any pre-2016 figures presented below may not match previous annual reports published elsewhere on this site. Comparisons between 2016 data and previous years have been made using the revised aggregate data. See the methodology for full details of how this report has been compiled.
Number and value
The overall value reached its highest level in the 10 years of this report, even though the number of million-pound donations decreased in 2016.
In 2016, 139 donors made 310 charitable donations worth £1m or more, with a total value of £1.83bn.
While the number of donations decreased by 5% from 2015, the overall value climbed to £1.83bn – the highest figure recorded in the report since it began in 2008.
The average donation size increased from £5.4m to £5.9m.
The mean donation increased from 2015, reflecting an increase in the number of donations worth £10m+. The median donation (the middle value when they are placed in ascending order) decreased slightly from £2.6m to £2.4m. The mode (the value that occurs most often) remained constant at £1m, as it has throughout the 10 years of this report.
Value of donations
The value of donations of £10m or more reached its highest ever level, at just over £1bn.
While once again we did not see any single ‘mega gifts’ of £100m or more, the top 10 donations in 2016 were each worth at least £25m. There were 45 donations of £10m or more, between them accounting for 60% of the overall value.
The highest overall donation of £106.16m was from the Wellcome Trust to the University of Oxford, but this was made via a number of separate grants. The largest single donation of £80m went to The Standard Life Foundation from Standard Life, and the third largest of £74.90m went to the University of Oxford from Atlantic Philanthropies.
Donations from corporations increased significantly to reach their highest level in 10 years
2016 saw a significant increase in donations from corporations, from £354m to £512m, marking their highest ever contribution since the report began. These donations represent 28% of the report’s overall value, compared to 20% in 2015.
While the number of corporate donations only saw a minor increase, the growth in value can be attributed to a number of factors, including:
- a significant donation of £80m from Standard Life;
- an increase in the number of donations worth more than £10m, and
- an increase in the value donated by new corporate donors (totaling £48.7m)
Meanwhile, foundations once again gave the highest number of donations and accounted for the highest proportion of overall value (55%).
Individual donations dropped considerably in both value and number compared to the previous two years, representing 17% of the total value compared to 23% in 2015. There were 35 unique individual donors compared to 44 in 2015.
London remains the hub of major philanthropy in the UK but donation levels increased in other regions.
As in previous years, London accounts for the highest number of gifts, with 211 donations worth a combined £1bn originating in the capital – 60% of the overall value.
However, million-pound donors continue to be found across the country.
Several regions in England – the East Midlands, the West Midlands and the North East – saw their highest ever total value in 2016, as did Scotland.
There were two donations where the region is unknown.
The number of donations coming into the UK from other jurisdictions also reached their highest level in the report’s history, with 30 donations coming from 13 different locations, and a further eight donations where the donor country is unknown. The value of these donations has also increased from 2015 to £264m – representing 14% of the overall value and the second highest total we have recorded – primarily due to two especially large donations from Atlantic Philanthropies.
Fewer organisations received million-pound donations but the field remains diverse.
There were 246 unique recipients of million-pound gifts, decreasing slightly from 251 in 2015.
While the majority (68%) continue to receive just one donation of £1m or more, the proportion of recipients benefiting from multiple gifts was higher than in 2015. 36 recipients received more than one donation – including arts and culture organisations, medical research and a number of universities – with 11 receiving three or more.
As in previous years, higher education and foundations dominated, accounting for 36% and 31% of the overall value respectively.
Of the 11 donations worth £25m or more, seven went to higher education institutions and three to foundations. Higher education received the highest amount this category has seen since the report began, and foundations saw a particularly strong rise in the value of donations, receiving £112m more than in 2015.
After a drop in donations in 2015, health as a sub-sector bounced back significantly to receive almost double the amount in 2016 (27 donations with a combined value of £94m). Education also saw an uplift, receiving almost £23.5m compared to £16.8m in 2015.
The Garden Bridge Trust – the charity that was established to build and run the proposed ‘Garden Bridge’ project in central London – received 10 donations of £1m or more. If these donations are not taken into account, the arts, culture and heritage sub-saw a significant decrease from the £110m it received in 2015.
DISTRIBUTION ACROSS SUBSECTORS IN 2016
 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.
 ‘Overseas’ relates to recipients based in a country other than the UK.