Across all countries covered in this report there is a wealth of experience of major philanthropy. We asked donors to share their advice on giving donations of $1m or more.

  • Be clear about your motivations for philanthropy.
    What do you hope to achieve? What are your goals?

  • Give to the causes and organisations you feel most passionate about.

  • Balance your heart and mind. Trust your instincts but do your research to consider the past and potential future impact of the organisations you may support.

  • Don't just write cheques. The more engaged you are with your philanthropy, the more enjoyable it will be and the greater your chances of success.

  • Take informed risks. Invest in organisations or projects you believe are worthwhile. Even if they don't succeed, focus on lessons learnt.

  • Learn from others. Don't feel you need to reinvent the wheel, but rather build on the experiences and due diligence of other donors.

  • Set yourself clear expectations and ensure that both you and the organisation you support share a similar understanding and vision.

  • Visit the organisations you support. This will help you understand their work better and the impact they make.

  • Trust and respect are the two most important principles in philanthropy. Trust that the organisation you support is capable of delivering solutions. Respect the ways in which they put your money to use, especially if you provide unrestricted funding.

  • Commit for the long haul. A lasting difference takes time to realise, but there is nothing more satisfying.

  • Appreciate that you may not see the full impact of your philanthropy in your lifetime.

  • Think about how you can best sustain your philanthropy for the longer term, perhaps by appointing specialist advisers, hiring professional staff or establishing an endowment.


Attracting a million dollar gift is not only a difficult task but also an enormous responsibility for an organisation. We asked charities to share their thoughts about receiving donations worth $1m or more.

  • Dream big about what you would do with a million dollar investment, and then have a clear and easy way to communicate this strategic vision.

  • Don't be afraid to spend money on fundraising.
    Many charities are reluctant to invest in this, but it pays off in the long term.

  • Give a lot of thought in advance to how you will acknowledge your major donors. Discuss with them if, and how, they want to be recognised.

  • Donors are people who possess assets and resources beyond money. Involve your donor in the charity and talk to them about their interests.

  • Extend relationships with donors beyond the fundraising team. Philanthropists will often want to meet senior management as well as people on the front line of the charity.

  • Planning and defined objectives are part of what earns you the right to be considered for large gifts.You need to have a plan for the future, whether it will take many gifts over a decade or a single $1m donation to realise it.

  • Develop a relationship and build trust with the potential donor. Be patient and realistic about how long it will take to cultivate a donation of this size.

  • Identifying potential donors is about relationships, not cold calling. If someone is willing to refer you and leverage their personal network for you, that's a huge endorsement.

  • Set out clear expectations on both sides at the start of a partnership; the best relationships are founded on honesty and genuine synergy between charity and supporter. Delivering what you say you will is, of course, vitally important.

  • Be an expert in your field. Donors need to know that you have a good intellectual understanding of the issue or problem at hand, and a good understanding of how you are going to attack that issue.