Millionaire giving increases through first quarter of 2021

The first three months of 2021 have seen a revival in giving levels among wealthy individuals in the UK. This is according to new results from quarterly surveying conducted by the Beacon Collaborative and Savanta. The median* amount given in the last quarter by those with investable wealth above £1 million was £250. This has increased from £170 in December. Mean** giving also increased from £2,370 to £3,990 over the same period. These significant increases show wealthier donors are returning to giving levels that are close to those seen at the height of the pandemic last summer.

A distinct feature of the first quarter of 2021 was the number of individuals making £1,000 – £5,000 donations, which doubled among those with higher asset levels. Almost a quarter of those with wealth over £5 million gave between £1,000 and £5,000 during the first three months of 2021, compared to 15% across the wealthy population as a whole. More widely, gifts of between £100 and £1,000 remain the most popular, with 34% of respondents giving at this level.

It is not surprising to see millionaire giving levels increase in the run up to the end of the tax year. The return to a national lockdown is also likely to have been a factor in higher giving levels.

Reviewing the trends across the whole of last year, from the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020 until now, the most noticeable change in behaviour is among those with wealth of £2 million – £5 million.

For this group, both the median and the mean are above the levels seen at the height of the first lockdown last year. This suggests that more individuals in this wealth segment are giving more, and that the value of their gifts is increasing. In other words, this group has continued its commitment to giving – going beyond the levels we saw even during the crisis last year.

By contrast, major one-off gifts from those with wealth over £5 million – a feature of the first lockdown – have not materialised during the latest lockdown. Instead, this group has slightly increased the value of regular contributions. This is likely because the pandemic is now a continuing crisis rather than a newly unfolding one.

In summary, the latest results suggest that those in the upper echelons are continuing to respond to the effects of the pandemic with higher levels of giving, but their perspective has shifted from emergency funding to longer-term, sustained and sustainable contributions.

A note on the median and mean

* The median provides an indicator for what is happening to giving across the whole of the wealthy population. The median refers to the exact midpoint of the dataset.

** The mean is more sensitive to giving levels among major donors. This is the average as calculated by adding all datapoints together and dividing by the number of datapoints in the set. This can easily be skewed by one or two very high-level donors.