October 10, 2011

Looking to Give a Million? Tool Helps Big Donors Find Right Match

Million Dollar List can help donors decide where, when and how to make major gifts

Major philanthropists and those about to join their ranks increasingly want information about which organizations with causes matching their interests are receiving large gifts, where their peers are giving and where gaps in funding may exist.

Now, they have a new tool that can help them and their financial advisors decide where, when and why to make gifts of $1 million or more.

Last week, Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy rolled out a searchable database of more than 60,000 large, publicly reported gifts it has compiled since 2000. The Million Dollar List covers gifts from individuals, foundations and corporations.

According to the center, advisors can help donors by searching the database for information on customizable criteria such as gifts by geography, dollar amount, type of charity, individual donor and organization name. As well, searches can point up trends and help donors find like-minded philanthropists for potential collaborations to leverage their giving.

“Donors increasingly value transparency in philanthropy and are driving that trend,” Una Osili, director of research at the Center on Philanthropy, said in a statement. “By providing information about their gifts to the Million Dollar List, they will encourage greater transparency among all those involved in charitable giving, increase opportunities to connect with other donors, and strengthen understanding of philanthropy.”

In its statement, the center listed some trends its researchers had gleaned from the database:

  • Changes in the number of gifts as well as changes in the dollar amount of gifts of $1 million and up closely follow trends in the stock market.
  • About 70% of the 6,800 publicly reported gifts made by individuals came from people who made one gift of $1 million or more.
  • Nearly two-thirds of individual gifts go to organizations based in the state where the donor lives.
  • Higher education organizations receive a far greater number of million-dollar gifts from individuals than does any other type of charity. Foundations receive far more dollars in million-dollar-and-up gifts from individuals than do other types of organizations.
  • Approximately 4% of individuals make gifts of $50 million and more. About 1% of corporate gifts and 1% of foundation gifts are of this size.
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