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Million-Dollar Donations Surge to Five-Year High

Million-dollar donations to charity reached their highest level since 2008 last year with nearly $17 billion in total handed out, led by big name donors Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg. The value of million-dollar donations rose by nearly $3 billion in 2013 compared with the previous year, but the number of donors making gifts dropped significantly over the same period, a new report on from private bank Coutts shows.

There were 1,173 million-dollar-plus charitable donations in 2013, down from 1,408 in 2012. But the 2013 gifts totalled $16.92 billion, up from $13.96 billion a year earlier according to the bank's Million Pound Donors Report. Three large donors dominated the field, with the largest new gift coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gave the World Health Organization some $1.8 billion last year. Warren Buffett gave $2 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an annual contribution to the foundation as a result of a $30 billion pledge he made in 2006. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave $1 billion to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

What motivates charity-giving? 6:31

IN-DEPTH

-- Jenny Cosgrove, CNBC