Charitable Giving for Humanities Activities
- From 2020 to 2021, giving from corporations, foundations, and individuals to ACH organizations jumped 21.8% in inflation-adjusted value to $23.5 billion, its highest level in records going back to the early 1980s (Indicator IV-15a). The increase followed a 6.8% decline from 2019 to 2020, which reduced donations to ACH organizations to less than 4.0% of all charitable giving, the smallest share recorded since 1994. With the sharp increase in 2021, giving to ACH organizations grew to slightly more than 4.8% of all giving—the ACH sector’s largest share on record.
- Donations to ACH organizations increased 277% from 1984 to 2000 (rising from $4.41 billion to $16.6 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars) and then, after a decline, experienced another surge up to $19.5 billion in 2007. With the recession the following year, however, charitable giving to these organizations dropped sharply, falling 20.7% (to $15.47 billion) in 2008. ACH organizations were particularly hard hit, as giving overall declined only 7.2%.
- During the recession and for the two years following it, giving to ACH organizations remained well below the 2007 high point. But from 2012 to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, giving to ACH organizations increased in every year but one, rebounding more quickly than charitable giving overall. From 2011 (its recent low point) to 2021, giving to ACH organizations rose 52.2%, outstripping giving overall, which increased only 34.8%.
- Looking across the entire 1984–2021 period, giving to ACH organizations increased 433%, outpacing growth in charitable giving overall (171%).
Source: Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA 2022: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2021—Data Tables (Chicago: Giving USA Foundation, 2022), pp. 6–7. 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 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.