Charitable Giving for Humanities Activities
- In 2017, giving from corporations, foundations, and individuals to ACH organizations reached $19.5 billion—the highest level on record, in inflation-adjusted dollars (Indicator IV-15a). According to a recent Giving USA report, many ACH organizations launched large-scale fundraising campaigns in 2015.1
- Donations from charitable sources to ACH organizations increased almost 250% from 1985 to 2000 (rising from $4.3 billion to $15 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars) and then, after a modest decline, experienced another surge up to $17.6 billion in 2007. With the recession came a sharp curtailment of charitable giving to these organizations, with donated monies declining 21% (to $14.0 billion) in 2008—a much steeper drop than for charitable giving generally (7.2%).2
- In recent years, the growth in charitable giving to ACH organizations has outpaced the growth in giving to all organizations. From its recent low point in 2011 to the year 2017, giving to the humanities rose almost 40%, while overall giving increased only about two-thirds as much (26%).
- In 2017, ACH organizations’ share of all gifts reached 4.8%, the highest recorded level over the time period beginning in 1985 (when ACH giving represented only 2.6% of all charitable giving).
IV-15a: Individual, Corporate, and Foundation Giving to Arts, Culture, and Humanities (ACH) Organizations, Total and as a Percentage of All Charitable Giving, 1985–2017 (Adjusted for Inflation)
Source: Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017 (Chicago: Giving USA Foundation, 2018). Giving USA is a public service initiative of The Giving Institute. Data presented by American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (humanitiesindicators.org).
Little information is available on charitable giving to the humanities. The Giving USA Foundation, a research organization that publishes data and information on trends in charitable giving, documents charitable support for an array of sectors—including “arts, culture, and humanities organizations.” Unfortunately, this category encompasses a range of activities (such as the performing arts) that are not within the scope of the humanities as conceptualized for the purposes of the Humanities Indicators. These data also exclude other key humanities activities (such as humanities education, which is tallied in an undifferentiated “education” category). Nonetheless, data from Giving USA provide the closest available approximation of the extent of charitable giving for humanities-related projects.