Charitable Giving for Humanities Activities
- In 2020, giving from corporations, foundations, and individuals to ACH organizations declined from its 2019 zenith, decreasing 8.5% to $19.47 billion, even as charitable giving increased 3.8% overall (adjusting for inflation; Indicator IV-15a). ACH organizations in 2020 received substantially less in contributions than other types of entities, such as religious organizations ($131.08 billion) and educational institutions ($71.34 billion).1
- Donations from charitable sources to ACH organizations increased 277% from 1984 to 2000 (rising from $4.21 billion to $15.88 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars) and then, after a modest decline, experienced another surge up to $18.63 billion in 2007. With the recession came a sharp decline in charitable giving to these organizations, as donated funds fell 20.7% (to $14.77 billion) in 2008. ACH organizations fared worse than charitable organizations generally (as charitable giving declined only 7.3% overall).
- From 2011 to 2019, the growth in charitable giving to ACH organizations outpaced the growth in charitable giving overall. From 2011 (its recent low point) to 2019, giving to ACH organizations rose 44.3%, while giving increased 32.2% overall. As a result, contributions to ACH organizations grew from 4.3% to 4.7% of all charitable giving. But with the divergence in giving trends in 2020 (as giving to ACH organizations decreased by more than 8%, while charitable giving increased overall), the share of all charitable donations that went to arts, culture, and humanities shrank to 4.1%.
- 1Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020 (Chicago: Giving USA Foundation, 2021), 23.
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.