The value of individual donations worth more than $1m across the UK, USA and Middle East more than trebled in 2015, when compared to the previous year, according to the findings of the fourth international edition of the Coutts Million Dollar Donors Report.

A total of 2,197 million-dollar donations, worth a combined $56bn were made in 2015. Donations given by individuals constituted 85% of the value of the donations, while the rest came from corporations or foundations.

The overall value increased significantly compared to the $17bn donated in the same regions in 2014. There was one single gift of $32bn, but even discounting that, the value of donations rose more than 41%, the report says.

The largest chunk of the total value of donations went to foundations, particularly due to a $32bn pledge from a donor in the Middle East. However, as in 2014 higher education remained a popular recipient of million-dollar-plus giving.

Almost half of the donations (1,047) were gifted directly to universities and higher education institutions, though these accounted for 18% of the total financial value, the study found.

Coutts Institute director Rachel Harrington said: “The data captured in the Coutts Million Dollar Donors Report paints a clear picture of the remarkable growth in major philanthropy during 2015, with new and repeat donors supporting an increasing number of recipients. But it’s the stories behind the numbers that bring to life the passion and vision that drive these donations.

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“The interviews with major donors reflect their diverse motivations for giving, but also the ways in which they’re thinking about leveraging all their resources to achieve impact – from using their time, skills and convening power, to the way in which they invest their endowments. These trends reflect what we’re seeing on a day-to-day basis here at Coutts in the increasing number of conversations we are having with clients and their children about their philanthropic interests.”