Charity still begins at home for Hong Kong donors, but there were more gifts to mainland China in 2013.

Both the number and value of million dollar donations increased in 2013, possibly in response to the Ya’an earthquake as many Hong Kong donors supported disaster relief efforts.

While there were two mega-grants of more than $100m (from the same source), most donations were in the $1m-$10m range. The $10m-$99m tier saw a marked drop from 2012 levels.

Foundation donors provided nearly half the total value of million dollar donations in 2013, while the amount offered by individuals shrank to 12% from 45% in 2012.

The majority of donations both came from and went to Hong Kong. That said, there were more grants to the government sub-sector and mainland China in 2013 than in the previous year. In both cases, this was probably because of the outpouring of donations in response to the Ya’an earthquake. As with 2012, higher education also benefitted significantly from million dollar donations. 

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, may be included in both databases and thus there is a risk of some overlap in certain categories of gifts.

Number and total

Donations to the Ya’an earthquake contributed to the rise in million dollar donations in 2013.



Total value of donations worth $1m+


Total number of $1m+ donations

Hong Kong saw 120 donations worth a million dollars or more in 2013, with a total value of $935m. Both of these figures were an increase over 2012 levels: a 15% rise in the number of donations and a 7% rise in the total value. One key reason behind the rise was the Ya’an earthquake in the Sichuan Province of China in April in 2013, to which many Hong Kong donors responded. The earthquake, which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, caused 200 deaths and left almost 12,000 people missing.

Average size of million dollar donations

Despite the rise in overall value, both the mean and median donations were slightly down on 2012 figures.

The mean donation in 2013 was $7.8m, while the corresponding figure for 2012 was $8.4m. The median (the middle value when all are placed in order) was $1.8m compared to $2.3m the previous year. The mode, the most frequent figure, remained the same, at $1.3m – or HK$10m, a natural psychological threshold for high net worth giving in Hong Kong.



In 2013


in 2012



In 2013


in 2012



In 2013


in 2012

Value of million dollar donations

The Li Ka Shing Foundation provided the two largest gifts, each worth over nine figures and which together made up more than a third of the value of all identified donations.

The two largest gifts came from the same donor. The Li Ka Shing Foundation made a grant of $192m to build the Tsz Shan Monastery in Tai Po, Hong Kong, and another of $130m to establish a new facility, the Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology in Shantou, China.

Nearly half (59) of the million dollar donations in Hong Kong were in the $1m-$2m category in 2013; 42 were in the $2m-$10m range; 17 were worth $10m-$100m; and two were $100m or over.

There was a significant reduction in the proportion of $10m-$99m donations (from 22% in 2012 to 14% in 2013), which could indicate a reluctance among donors generally to fund large-scale, longer-term capital projects. That said, it is worth bearing in mind that donations of this order are relatively rare and their numbers can therefore fluctuate significantly from year to year based on individual donor preference.


Source of million dollar donations

Foundations provided nearly half of the value of million dollar donations in 2013, while the total value of individual donations fell sharply from 2012 levels.

In 2013, donations from foundations made up 49% of the total value of million dollar giving. Individuals accounted for a third of the donations, but only 12% of the value. Donations by corporations made up 39% of the overall value.

The value of individual donations as a share of the overall total dropped considerably from the 2012 figure of 45% to 12%[1]

There were 59 million dollar donors in 2013. Most gave a single donation, although some gave more, such as the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, which – as in 2012 – made 36 million dollar gifts. 




49% of total value in 2013




12% of total value in 2013




39% of total value in 2013

[1] Year-on-year comparisons between the foundation and corporation categories should be avoided given the fact that donations from a large foundation which gave in both years were re-classified in 2013 to align more closely with the methodology of the other regions in the report. 

Location of million dollar donations

All but one of the million dollar donations originated from Hong Kong itself.

Hong Kong is small, so close analysis of the location of million dollar donors is not worthwhile. Almost all identified donations originated in Hong Kong, the exception being a gift from a Paris-based multinational company which has a substantial operation in Hong Kong.

Recipients of million dollar donations

The number of recipients was almost unchanged from 2012, but while most big donations were still given domestically, there was a swing towards mainland China.

A total of 83 organisations received million dollar donations in 2013, virtually the same number as in the previous year (84). These organisations included operating charities, charitable foundations and governmental units. The majority (69) received a single donation of a million dollars or more, with the bulk (63%) going to charities in Hong Kong – though this preference was not as pronounced as in 2012 when 76% of the total number of donations were given locally.

Charities in mainland China received 32% of the total number of gifts (21% in 2012), representing over one-third of the total donation amount (12% in 2012). The increase in gifts to China in 2013 is thought to be driven at least in part by disaster relief for the Ya’an earthquake. The remaining gifts given to organisations outside Hong Kong, representing 5% of the total number and 6% of the total value, were sent to charities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.



60%  China - Hong Kong

34%  China - Mainland

6%  Overseas


total recipients

in 2013

Distribution of million dollar donations

Higher education, religion and government were the most popular causes.

Higher education and government attracted the highest number of gifts, between them accounting for 66 of the 120 million dollar donations. Though religion as a category attracted only one donation, it accounted for 21% of the total value as it was one of the two largest during the year.

A total of 14 organisations received more than one million dollar donation, with two – the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong SAR and the University of Hong Kong each receiving seven separate million dollar donations during 2013. The donations to the Liaison Office were in response to the Ya’an earthquake, where entrepreneurs in Hong Kong and companies with substantial operations in China contributed to the disaster relief.





120 donations of $1m+


Higher education


34 donations of $1m+




1 donation of $1m+




32 donations of $1m+


Human services


17 donations of $1m+




6 donations of $1m+


Education (not universities)


3 donations of $1m+




9 donations of $1m+


Arts, Culture & humanities


2 donations of $1m+




7 donations of $1m+




5 donations of $1m+


Public & societal benefit


3 donations of $1m+




1 donation of $1m+

[1] ‘Overseas’ refers to organisations headquartered outside Hong Kong.