Charitable Giving for Humanities Activities
- In 2019, giving from corporations, foundations, and individuals to ACH organizations reached $21.6 billion—the highest level on record (Indicator IV-15a). While this amount represents a zenith for ACH organizations (adjusting for inflation), it is substantially less than giving to other types of entities, such as religious organizations ($128.2) and educational institutions ($64.1).
- Donations from charitable sources to ACH organizations increased almost 277% from 1984 to 2000 (rising from approximately $4.2 billion to $15.7 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars) and then, after a modest decline, experienced another surge up to $18.4 billion in 2007. With the recession came a sharp decline in charitable giving to these organizations, as donated funds fell 20.7% (to $14.6 billion) in 2008—a much steeper drop than for charitable giving generally (7.2%).
- In recent years, the growth in charitable giving to ACH organizations has outpaced the growth in giving to all organizations. From 2011 (its recent low point) to 2019, giving to ACH organizations rose 48.5%, while overall giving increased 32.5%.
- In 2019, ACH organizations’ share of all charitable giving reached 4.8%, the largest experienced by the sector in data going back to 1984 (when donations to ACH organizations represented only 2.5% of all charitable giving).
Source: Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2019 (Chicago: Giving USA Foundation, 2020). Giving USA is a public service initiative of The Giving Institute. Data analyzed and 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.