Number and value of million dollar donations

A total of 28 donations worth $1m or more were identified in the GCC countries in 2012, with a combined value of $727m.

The largest gift identified was from a donor in Kuwait and was worth $200m, comprising over one quarter of the value of all identified gifts.



Total value of donations worth $1m+


Total number of $1m+ donations

Average size of million dollar donations

The average (mean) of million dollar donations in 2012 was nearly $26m. It is important to note that the mean value can be influenced by outliers, in this case one or two very large gifts.

The median (the middle value when all are placed in ascending order) and the mode (the most frequent value) are often viewed as more useful indicators of the ‘average’ size donation. As shown below, in 2012 the median million dollar donation was $5m, and the mode was $1m.



In 2012



In 2012



In 2012

Value of million dollar donations

One quarter of million dollar donations in the GCC countries in 2012 were valued between $1m and $2m. 

The other 75% of million dollar donations were worth $2m or more, including 32% that were worth $10m or more. There were also a handful of gifts (three) worth at least $100m. This largest group of gifts was given to a variety of recipients and causes: higher education in Qatar, food relief in Yemen, and general development projects in non-Arab Asian countries.


Source of million dollar donations

In 2012, half of the gifts and approximately half of the value of those gifts were made by foundations.

Individuals gave around one-third (32%) of the identified million dollar donations, but these donations were worth nearly half (44%) of the total value of all donations. This indicates that the average gift by individuals is higher than that of other types of donors. Gifts from corporations and corporate foundations made up the smallest portion of million dollar gifts in the GCC: 18% of gifts and 7% of the total value of gifts.

A few individual and institutional donors made more than one gift of $1m or more in 2012. A total of 25 different million dollar donors were identified, including one anonymous donor. The vast majority of these donors gave just one million dollar gift – 22 donors, or 88% of unique donors.

However, three donors gave two gifts each. These donors were:

- A foundation in the UAE that gave to local human services charities to support a variety of causes such as children’s health and education

- An individual donor in Kuwait who gave to the Fukushima disaster recovery efforts in Japan and pledged a large gift for development projects in non-Arab Asian countries

- One donor in Bahrain supported Syrian refugee camps in Turkey as well as reconstruction projects in Gaza




49% of total value in 2012




44% of total value in 2012




7% of total value in 2012

Location of million dollar donations

Million dollar donations were identified from all six countries of the GCC in 2012. Donors in the UAE provided the highest number of gifts (nine), 32% of the total.

Around half of these gifts went to domestic charities in the UAE to support purposes like housing and education for the needy. The other half went overseas to causes such as schools and vaccination drives.

Donors in Kuwait gave the second-highest number of gifts (eight), 29% of the total number of GCC gifts. However, gifts from Kuwait comprised nearly half of the total value of million dollar donations, indicating that the average gift from donors in Kuwait was much larger than those from other countries. Most of the gifts from Kuwait (75%) went to a wide variety of overseas charities addressing a range of issues such as disaster relief and international security research.

There was one gift from Oman directed to Syrian refugees that comprised 3% of the number of gifts and 1% of the total value of identified GCC gifts. 



1% Bahrain

6% Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

47% Kuwait

0.6% Oman

22% Qatar

24% United Arab Emirates

In 2012, the largest portion (71%) of all donations worth $1m or more was directed to charities outside the country of the donor (‘overseas’). Qatar and Kuwait received a relatively large portion of the total value of million dollar gifts, worth 14% and 19%, respectively. However, the most notable finding is that million dollar gifts were primarily given outside of the GCC. The gifts were generally not given from one GCC country to another, but either by a donor in one GCC country to a charity in that same country, or outside of the GCC altogether.

Overseas gifts were given to a variety of countries, including the US, UK, Switzerland, Japan and Turkey. The largest number of overseas gifts went to non-GCC Arab countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Yemen. 

Recipients of million dollar donations

A total of 17 organisations received million dollar donations in 2012.[1]These organisations include operating charities as well as charitable trusts and foundations. All but one organisation received only one donation worth $1m or more.

In 2012, only one ‘organisation’ received multiple million dollar gifts. However, the recipient was defined as the Syrian people, so it is clear that it is not one operating organisation but a variety of groups that will benefit from this funding. A number of such gifts are publicly announced as going to a very general group of recipients, such as ‘the Syrian people’ or ‘Syrian refugees’. While most of the identified gifts were given in 2012, a number of gifts were given as pledges or as payments over a number of years.


total recipients

in 2012

[1] This excludes a small number of cases in which a gift was given to several organisations to share, or where a recipient charity could not be identified.

Distribution of all million dollar donations

Million dollar donations in the GCC countries were distributed across three subsectors in 2012.

The largest portion – nearly two-thirds of the value of million dollar donations – went to overseas charities. These 20 gifts were distributed to charities in a wide variety of countries, especially to non-GCC Arab countries. Fully 40% of the gifts given to overseas charities (eight gifts) were specified for disaster relief efforts, and the largest part of these disaster relief gifts was directed to Syria.

The human services subsector includes charities that provide direct assistance to people, such as youth development, public safety, employment and housing. Charities in this group received six GCC gifts, the second-largest number of gifts. However, the mean value of these gifts was relatively small. Even though higher education institutions received only two gifts, they received a larger share of the total value of million dollar donations (19%) compared with human services organisations (15%).





28 gifts of $1m+


Overseas [1]


20 gifts of $1m+


Higher Education


2 gifts of $1m+


Human Services


6 gifts of $1m+

[1]‘Overseas’ refers to charities headquartered outside of the country in question, regardless of the purpose of the gift, for example a donation from Kuwait to a school in the US or a hospital in Syria.