I love a good wealth and philanthropy report, don’t you? And there are an increasing number of juicy ones out there now, as well. From the World Wealth Report and Giving USA to Charities Aid Foundation and the stellar Knight Frank reports, we’re awash in research riches.
A relative newcomer to these helpful reports about high net worth individuals is the Million Dollar Donors Report (MDDR) from Coutts Bank, which published its third annual report this week. It’s a global-view expansion of their former annual, the Million Pound Donors Report (2008-2012), which concentrated specifically on philanthropy in the United Kingdom.
Founded in London in 1692, Coutts is no newcomer to the private-banking scene, so they have a lot of history and relationships to bank on. If you have at least £1 million in investable assets (not including real estate) you, too, would be welcome to join its approximately 32,000 other clients in enjoying Coutts’ white-glove service.
Likewise, the 2015 Million Dollar Donor Report has lots of great gems about philanthropy (and philanthropists) in their fact vault. For example:
- In the UK in 2014, the number of million+ donations only rose by a total of 6 gifts (from 292 to 298) over the previous year, but the value of those gifts rose by £200m. That’s a huge increase in average gift size!
- Philanthropists in the Middle East prefer to super-size their gifts: half of all of the million-plus donations from that region were in the $2 million to $10 million range and 35 percent were even larger. (!) Also interesting: the vast majority of recipient organizations were outside of the donor’s home country.
- In the United States, 42 percent of all donations of $1 million or more went to higher education, for a total of $5.94 billion. If you add giving to primary and secondary education, the total reaches $6.3 billion, nearly 45% of all giving at that level.
- Chinese donors are increasingly interested in environmental giving. While companies made more philanthropic gifts in China last year, individuals gave more money and the trend is rising.
It’s a fascinating report that makes for very entertaining reading, but something in the commentary made me do a double–take.
In the overview, the Coutts’ researchers noted:
It seems that 2014’s mega-grants were overwhelmingly directed towards health and education (particularly higher education). This is unsurprising because organisations such as universities and hospitals are able to absorb such significant amounts and the variety of activities they undertake means that they appeal to a broad range of donors; using funds, for example, to build new infrastructure, undertake new research or develop new programmes.”
While that may also be true, the real reason those gifts happened is because each recipient organization had a professionally-run fundraising office.
In twenty-plus years, I’ve yet to see a donor be inspired to make a million dollar gift because the recipient organization had a variety of programs and was able to comfortably absorb their money.
It’s the legions of trustee volunteers, presidents, development directors, front-line fundraisers, researchers, events people, and others that identify, involve, cultivate, ask and thank those top donors. Professional fundraising and inspired donors make million dollar gifts happen, because gifts at that level from living donors rarely drop out of the sky on unsuspecting charities who have not spent time cultivating them.
We are what’s missing.
It was possibly oversight or naiveté on the part of the authors why we were left out. Still, the report is packed with information about philanthropy from regions we can never seem to learn enough about, including Russia, South Africa, the Middle East, India, and China.
Have a look – I’d love to hear what you think.