Can You Spare a Million?

By Barlow Mann

A new report examines the nature of million-dollar gifts.

According to the latest information, gifts of $1 million or more seem to be experiencing a significant rebound. A recent study of $1 million+ gifts in the U.S. by global bank Coutts indicates the total of such gifts in 2013 was at its highest level since 2008.

Gifts of $1 million or more totaled almost $17 billion in 2013. By comparison, the 2012 value was just under $14 billion. Coutts attributes the increase to a rise in gifts from individuals.

By the numbers.

Some 21 percent of $1 million+ charitable gifts in 2013 were valued at $10 million or more. In fact, the average size of all million-dollar gifts was $14.4 million, the second-highest amount over the last decade. Individual donors accounted for 60 percent of the total dollar value, far outstripping gifts from foundations (35 percent). Higher education received both the greatest number and dollar volume of $1 million+ gifts.

Looking to the future.

Highlights from Coutts reportWhen figures are released for 2014, we will likely see a continued rebound in both the number and size of larger gifts.

Those responsible for fundraising at America’s nonprofit organizations and institutions will continue to rely on various types of donors and sizes of contributions. Regular, special and ultimate gifts from individuals will remain the mainstay for most successful fundraising programs.

Fundraisers will, however, need to vary the specific approaches and tactics they employ based on the types of donors and gifts they are seeking. Achieving an effective strategy may require the advice of consultants with specialized expertise in various areas to supplement in-house capabilities.

High net worth donors who are unwilling or unable to make large outright gifts in the seven-figure range may well be prospects for various deferred gifts or blended gift arrangements that combine gifts made now, over time and at the death of one or more persons.

For more specific ideas about generating gifts in 2015 and beyond, contact Sharpe Group at or 901.680.5300.


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