Number and value of million dollar donations

A total of 207 donations worth $1m or more were identified in China [1] in 2012, with a combined value of $1.175bn.



Total value of donations worth $1m+


Total number of $1m+ donations

The largest gift, worth $80m, was donated by a corporation to set up a new non-profit fund for environmental protection.


[1] Please note that in this Report, we generally use ‘China’ to refer to mainland China. Million dollar gifts in Hong Kong seem different in key ways from gifts in mainland China, and therefore are addressed in a separate report. Note that gifts from donors in Hong Kong to charities in mainland China, and gifts from donors in mainland China to charities in Hong Kong, will be included in both databases and thus there will necessarily be some overlap in certain categories of gifts.

Average size of million dollar donations

The average (mean) million dollar donation in 2012 was $5.7m, although it is important to remember that the mean can be influenced by larger donations. 

Often, the median (the middle value when all are placed in ascending order) and the mode (the most frequent value) can be more useful indicators of the ‘average’ donation.

In 2012, the median donation was $1.8m, while the mode was $1.6m. This is not surprising given that $1.6m was approximately equal to 10m Chinese Yuan (RMB), a natural threshold for high net worth giving in China.




In 2012



In 2012



In 2012

Value of million dollar donations

Just over half of identified million dollar donations were worth between $1m and $2m (53%). Nearly half of the gifts were worth $2m or more, including 14% that were worth $10m or more. 


Source of million dollar donations

The primary sources of million dollar donations in 2012 were corporations and corporate foundations, which provided 59% of the total number and 57% of the total value of gifts. Individuals provided an additional 38% of million dollar gifts.

However, these figures may not paint a true picture. Corporations and corporate foundations are often established by entrepreneurs who choose to give through their corporate foundation rather than a private foundation. 

Foundations were hardly visible in this analysis, contributing only seven gifts at the $1m and above level in 2012, about 1% of the dollar value of these gifts. One major reason behind this difference is the relative youth of private Chinese foundations, as they were only formalised in 2004. At this point in their development, Chinese foundations are more likely to function as operating foundations than to provide major grants – particularly as they have typically had less than a decade to build up their endowments to be able to offer grants.

A total of 172 different million dollar donors were identified. The vast majority of these donors (151, or 88% of unique donors) gave only a single million dollar gift.

However, a number of individual and institutional (ie, corporation, foundation or charitable trust) donors made multiple million dollar gifts in 2012. One donor, an individual, made seven separate gifts in 2012. Also, three corporate donors each made four separate donations in 2012. 




1% of total value in 2012




41% of total value in 2012




57% of total value in 2012

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 corporations may have multiple offices. However, we have sought to establish the primary address for each donor and have found donors spread across all regions of China. [1]

Donors were concentrated most in the Eastern region, where 28% of million dollar gifts originated, and comprising 36% of the total value of gifts. While the Eastern region includes Shanghai, a number of donors are also located in the provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, where private companies have been growing in recent years.

Donors from the Northern region of China provided 14% of the number of million dollar gifts, which were worth 20% of the total value of such gifts. Donors from the Northern region are likely residing or headquartered in Beijing. Donors from the Southern region of China provided 23% of the number of million dollar gifts and 18% of their total value.

The charities receiving million dollar gifts in 2012 were relatively widely distributed. One quarter of the number of gifts was directed to the Eastern region, making up 29% of the value of these gifts. Many gifts directed to the Eastern region went to charities in Shanghai. Around another quarter of gifts (27%) were directed to the Southern region, comprising 21% of the gift values. Gifts to charities in the Southern region were given primarily to Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shantou, all cities in the province of Guangdong. Each region of China received some million dollar gifts.

Two gifts were given to charities located outside of mainland China – specifically, in the special administrative region of Hong Kong. One of these gifts was given by a corporation to a university to provide mainland Chinese students with financial support to attend the university. The other gift was from an individual donor to a foundation that promotes technological career development and related charitable activities.




7% Central

36% East

20% North

0.1% Northeast

7% Northwest

18% South

2% Southwest

10% Overseas

[1] Regions defined by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of PRC. See for more detail. Special administrative regions are defined as ‘overseas’ for this section of the Report.

Recipients of million dollar donations

A total of 147 organisations were recipients of million dollar donations in 2012.[1] These organisations include operating charities as well as charitable foundations.

The vast majority of recipient charities were given just one donation of $1m or more (126 charities, or 86% of all unique organisations).

In 2012, a number of organisations received more than one gift. The highest number of gifts received by a single charity in 2012 was 15 separate gifts given to a district charity federation. These gifts went to a variety of purposes including schools, parks, and construction projects in Shantou.


total recipients

in 2012

[1] These numbers exclude one case in which a recipient charity could not be identified.

Distribution of all million dollar donations

Three subsectors dominated the distribution of donations: foundations,[1] government and higher education. Together, these subsectors received nearly 80% of the value of all gifts in 2012.

Foundations in China take various forms, and many act like front-line operating charities. As a result, it is difficult to determine the gifts that were ‘banked’ as opposed to ‘spent’ in China.

The second most important cause was government – specifically government-run development initiatives (this Report does not track political giving). This cause received 25% of the value of million dollar gifts. Examples of charitable donations to government include gifts to alleviate poverty in a particular region, to support post-disaster reconstruction and to support government-run schools.

Gifts to government-run development initiatives are a sizeable proportion of identified million dollar donations. In large part, this is because gifts to these government initiatives are then funnelled to a variety of other causes – education, health, poverty relief, disaster assistance and more. Because the government plays a large role in delivering these services, donors who want to support these causes may find it effective to work through and donate to government initiatives.

The third largest portion of million dollar giving was directed to institutions of higher education, which received 21% of the total value of identified gifts.






207 gifts of £1m+




58 gifts of $1m+




52 gifts of $1m+




44 gifts of $1m+




37 gifts of $1m+




10 gifts of $1m+




5 gifts of $1m+




1 gifts of $1m+


[1] Where foundations are donors we include both private and professional foundations, but exclude corporate foundations. Where foundations are recipient charities, we include all types of foundations – private as well as corporate.