The UK’s wealthiest maintain high-levels of charitable giving

New data suggests that charitable giving among the wealthiest individuals in the UK has increased in the latest quarter and is above the levels for this time last year, when the Covid-19 crisis took hold.

The insight emerges from a survey on the giving habits of 309 UK-based millionaires. The research forms part of a quarterly pulse survey on high-net-worth (HNW) giving in the UK, carried out by Beacon Collaborative and Savanta.

June’s results show those with investable assets above £5 million gave a median* of just over £500 to charity per quarter with 47% saying they gave more than planned during the quarter. This is slightly more than the median from this demographic in March and a notable jump from £300 in December’s survey. 

This finding will come as welcome news to charity sector leaders, many of whom had worried that the increased charitable giving of wealthy individuals would tail off as the worst of the pandemic passed.


Figure 1: This graph shows median giving levels by high-net-worth individuals during the previous three-month period e.g. ‘Dec-20’ shows median donations given to charity across the period covering October – December 2020.

Encouragingly, the results of the survey also reveal a continued rise in the overall levels of charitable giving from the wider wealthy population. Median donation amounts across all millionaires averaged £300 this quarter, a steady rise from £170 in December and £250 in March. It is possible that, as the end of the pandemic inches closer and we can see a return to some semblance of normal life, wealthy individuals are feeling comfortable to increase their regular donation amounts.

The mean** donation also showed a significant jump among those with assets over £5 million, from £500 in the March survey to £12,500 in June. It suggests that some among the UK’s wealthiest are increasing their giving, particularly those who are on an annual cycle of giving. 

The maximum amount given in the June results was £250,000 versus £300,000 this time last year. The amount might be less than last year, but it does show major givers are continuing to fund at high-levels. This will assuage concerns across the charity sector that the most generous major donors may not be able to sustain the high-levels of funding seen through the acute phase of the pandemic.

Figure 2: This graph shows mean giving levels by high-net-worth individuals during the previous three-month period e.g. ‘Dec-20’ shows mean donations given to charity across the period covering October – December 2020.

Looking more broadly, quarterly donation amounts between £100 and £1,000 remain the most popular among millionaires, with 37% giving at this level. Female millionaires demonstrated far higher giving than their male counterparts, with median donations of £500, compared to £200 from men.

While it is good news to see sustained high-levels of giving among the most wealthy, we should be mindful of other trends in the core wealthy population. For those with investable assets between £2 million and £5 million, the median donation level dropped slightly from £500 in March to £455 in June, despite 33% saying they gave “more than planned” during the last three months. This suggests that the wider wealthy were actually anticipating giving substantially less in this last quarter, but chose to give more.

There has also been a general levelling-off among those with investable assets of £1 million – £2 million since the peak of the crisis. Charities may therefore wish to focus on their core wealthy donor communities to see how they can be re-engaged. 

Taken altogether, these results suggest wealthy donors, particularly the most generous and those in the higher wealth brackets, are continuing to support the charities they care about. However, charities will need to reassess their relationships with core wealthy millionaires, ensuring that they understand how this demographic wants to give as we emerge from the pandemic. Doing so will ensure the wider wealthy population will remain engaged in the Covid rebuild and beyond.

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, with half of respondents giving above this level and half below. 

** The mean is sensitive to levels of giving among the most generous in the wealthy population. This is the average as calculated by adding all datapoints together and dividing by the number of datapoints in the set. It can easily be skewed by a small number of very high-level donors.