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Number of Charitable Gifts of $1 Million-plus From Individuals Fell in 2008

(March 2, 2009) After record-breaking totals in 2007, the last quarter of 2008 saw the amount of million-dollar gifts drop far below the average.

The findings are from the Center on Philanthropy’s Million Dollar List™, which tracks gifts of that amount or more reported in the news media. It is the second largest drop in individual gifts during the last half of a year to occur in the past decade. The largest drop, 35 percent, was in 2001.

The 333 gifts of $1 million or more from individuals in the second half of 2008 represents a decline from the record high of 495 such gifts made in the second half of 2007. It is also 14 percent below the 386 individual gifts given in the second half of 2006, a more typical year.

Foundations Gave More

Although the number of individual gifts fell, the number of $1 million-and-up gifts from foundations in the second half of 2008 increased 10 percent from the same period a year earlier, to 551 (up from 500), while the number of corporate gifts at that level remained the same at 146.

Overall, for all of 2008, at least 2,270 gifts of $1 million or more from individuals, foundations and corporations were announced, 4 percent more than for all of 2007.

About the Million Dollar List

The Million Dollar List™, compiled by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, documents gifts of $1 million or more announced in the news media. While it is not a comprehensive record of all million-dollar-plus gifts, it is indicative of trends in giving at that level.

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