Wealthy donors give $19 billion, favor higher education

Nearly 1,250 individual and institutional donors in six regions of the world made nearly 2,000 gifts of $1 million or more totaling $19 billion in 2012, a new report says.

Institutions of higher education received the most funds, $7.05 billion, followed by foundations, which received $2.87 billion, says the Million Dollar Donors Report from Coutts and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Individuals gave 46 percent of total dollars donated in all six regions combined, including the U.S., Britain, Russia, the Middle East, China and Hong Kong, while foundations gave the most gifts in four of the six regions.

Donors mainly focused on giving to organizations in their home country, with gifts abroad accounting for just 5.6 percent of the total value of $1 million donations in all six regions.

In the Middle East, however, 71 percent of $1 million gifts went abroad.

The report also says many million-dollar donors want to establish foundations to formalize and sustain their philanthropy, and increasingly want to be “strategic” in their giving by establishing a clear mission or objectives, or to collaborate with other philanthropists.

That shift toward strategic giving, a well-established trend in the U.S. and Britain, also is a  growing trend in Hong Kong and Russia, and is an emerging trend in the Middle East and China, the report says.

Interest in social investment that aims to generate measurable social impact in addition to a financial return also is growing in China, Hong Kong, Britain and the U.S., it says.

In the U.S., donors made 1,408 gifts of $1 million or more that totaled $13.96 billion, representing fewer gifts and a smaller total than in 2011, although the average gift size grew to $9.9 million, the highest value since the recession began in late 2007.

Foundations gave 52 percent of gifts of $1 million or more in the U.S. in 2012, up from 35 percent in 2011, while the share of gifts that size given by individuals fell to 35 percent in 2012 from 45 percent in 2011.

Higher education institutions received the biggest share of gifts of $1 million or more in the U.S., accounting for 40 percent.

The report, the first by the two organizations, builds on the Million Pound Donors Report published since 2008 by Coutts, the London-based wealth division of Royal Bank of Scotland Group, and the Million Dollar List published by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The new study, conducted by the school, tracks 1,955 donations from 1,249 donors, and is based on data collected by institutional partners in each country from a combination of publicly available sources and, in some cases, from surveys of prominent donors and charities.

Todd Cohen

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