An annual report from Coutts shows the number of UK donors giving more than £1 million to philanthropic causes surged last year.
The Coutts Million Pound Donor Report showed there were 298 donations above the £1 million mark in 2014, the highest record figure since the report was first published in 2008.
In total, the million pound donors gave £1.56 billion to charitable causes, or ‘banked’ in foundations last year, a 15% increase on the previous year.
The report, produced in association with Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, showed that 35 universities received donations in the £1 million region.
Oxford and Cambridge universities were the biggest beneficiaries here, receiving 11 and 10 £1 million plus donations respectively. Eight non-Oxbridge universities received more than one donation of this scale.
London retained its status as the centre of UK philanthropy, producing the vast majority of million pound donations (192 donations from 74 different donors). Donors based in the capital accounted for just over two thirds of the total value, equating to £1.05bn.
Together with those from the South East, this accounted for just under three quarters of the total value of the million pound donations last year.
Meanwhile 13 donations came from donors based in the North West, with the same number originating from the North East. The regions comprised 6.5% and 2% of the overall total respectively.
International donors also played an important role in UK philanthropy with the second largest donation of the year, £60m, coming from a donor based in the United Arab Emirates.
Donations from corporations continued to recover from their decline in 2012, exceeding any previous contributions. In 2014 the total value given by corporations increased by almost 8% to nearly 23% of the overall value given in the UK.
Coutts Institute executive director Lenka Setkova noted the large sums given to trusts and foundations and said: ‘The high proportion of funds given to charitable trusts and foundations indicates that major donors are continuing to organise their giving for the longer term.’
She also suggested it has never been ‘a more exciting time for philanthropy’ as donors look to achieve their goals not just through giving grants, but through leveraging other assets. This, Setkova pointed out, includes their time, networks or expertise – and in some cases, through how consideration is given to environmental, social, environmental or ethical factors in the investment of endowments.
‘It is exciting to find the highest-ever total number of seven-figure donations, and to see the total value return to levels last seen before the financial crash,’ said Dr Beth Breeze from the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent.
‘It seems clear that donors’ confidence is recovering, and that charities are trusted to make good use of significant sums, despite the recent torrent of negative media headlines about fundraising practices.’