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Given the comparatively limited financial support for the humanities from the federal government (see, for example, the indicator on funding for humanities research), a substantial share of funding for humanities work comes from private sources. There is no source of national data on giving for humanities activities specifically, but data on the broader category of arts, culture, and humanities (ACH) organizations show a considerable increase in charitable giving over the past several decades. During economic hard times, however, ACH organizations tend to lose considerable ground.

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Source: Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020 (Chicago: Giving USA Foundation, 2021). Inflation adjustment performed by Giving USA using the Consumer Price Index. 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.

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