Charity is the new investment, Coutts has claimed

Nearly 300 charitable donations totalling £1.36bn were made by UK-based philanthropists last year according to the latest Coutts Million Dollar Report.

The report, written in conjuunction with the University of Kent, found that 292 donations, with a value of £1.36bn were made to charitable causes or banked in foundations in 2013.

The amount represents a 50 per cent increase on the number of gifts made in 2012.

The number of donations of £1m or more was the highest ever recorded since the report was first produced in 2008.

Higher education institutions were the most popular beneficiaries, with 41 per cent of all £1m plus donations, totalling £552m.

A total of 33 universities received seven-figure donations and 11 of these saw more than one donation of this size. Oxford received 12 such gifts and Cambridge was given seven, though nine non-Oxbridge higher education institutions accepted at least one eight-figure gift.

London kept its status as the centre of UK philanthropy, producing the vast majority of million pound donors, with 169 donations and 69 per cent of the total donated.

Along with donors based South East, this accounted for roughly three-quarters of the total value of the million-pound donations last year. The only other region where the number of donations exceeded 10 was the North West, with 16 donations, accounting for 6.5 per cent of the total value.

Notably though, the largest gift in 2013 came from overseas - £75m - highlighting the role that international donors play in UK philanthropy.

A multinational report, which accompanies the UK one, can be found The report tracked a total of $26.3bn (£20bn) donations of $1m or more – up from $19bn last year.

Dr Beth Breeze from the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent co-author of the UK report, said: “We have long known that social norms and social pressure are key to encouraging philanthropy: the heightened attention on major givers in the media, and the increasingly positive climate for philanthropy in the UK, have combined to nudge people towards making more significant donations than they might otherwise have done.