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[Infographic] A Decade of Million-Dollar Gifts

September 14, 2013

News that the income gap between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the other 99 percent reached an all-time high in 2012 lends some poignancy to this week's infographic. Based on an analysis of publicly announced million-dollar-plus gifts made between 2000 to 2011, the graphic captures highlights of A Decade of Million-Dollar Gifts, a new report from the folks at the IUPUI Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Among other things, the report found that the number of million-dollar gifts peaked at 2,355 in 2008 and reached its lowest level -- 1,092 -- in 2003; that the combined value of million-dollar gifts peaked at nearly $61 billion in 2006 (thanks in large part to Warren Buffett's gift of approximately $33 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation); and that, following a three-year decline, the combined dollar value of such gifts reached its lowest point of the decade, roughly $10 billion, in 2010.

The report also identified three patterns in the number and dollar amount of gifts:

  • most types of recipient organizations saw the highest level in the number and dollar amount of million-dollar-plus gifts either at the beginning of the period (in 2000 or 2001) or in the middle years (2007 or 2008);
  • giving to most types of recipient organizations experienced a decline from 2001 to 2003, and again from 2008 to 2010, years that bracket the decade's two recessions; and
  • giving to most types of recipient organizations rose modestly in 2011, although it was still lower, in inflation-adjusted dollar terms, of the levels seen in 2007.

  Infographic-million-dollar-gifts
According to the researchers at the School of Philanthropy, the report's findings have a number of implications for donors, nonprofits, and practitioners:

  • Donors are looking for new ways of giving to drive social and economic changes in communities.
  • The fact that individual giving represented the largest share, in dollar value terms, of gifts at the million-dollar level confirms the importance of individual donor cultivation and stewardship.
  • Organizations in any subsector may attract major gifts.
  • Organizations that rely on individual major donors need to pay close attention to economic trends.
  • Cultivating prospective major donors and attracting small donations are both essential to an organization's financial health.

The full report can downloaded free of charge from the School of Philanthropy site.

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