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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 national source for data on giving for humanities activities specifically, but data on the broader category of arts, culture, and humanities (ACH) organizations show substantial growth in charitable giving for these activities over the past three decades. Such support fell substantially after the economic recession that started in 2007, with giving to ACH organizations not returning to its prerecession level until 2012 (in inflation-adjusted terms).

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)

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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.

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