Foundation Funding for the Humanities: An Overview of Current and Historical Trends

Loren Renz and Steven Lawrence
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The Foundation Center

Among the data needed to gauge the health of the humanities in American life is a comprehensive, ongoing measurement of foundation support for humanities research and activities. The Academy partnered with the Foundation Center, which annually tracks U.S. foundation giving, to examine and analyze changes in U.S. foundation support for the humanities between 1992 and 2002. An advisory committee of humanities experts reviewed the Center’s humanities coding practices and developed a broader definition of the humanities, including women’s studies, ethnic studies, and other interdisciplinary fields. Using this broader definition, study participants reviewed and analyzed the Foundation Center’s data. The 2004 resulting report is the most detailed examination available of contemporary trends in U.S. foundation funding across the many humanities subfields and disciplines.

The report’s findings show that private foundation giving to the humanities more than doubled between 1992 and 2002, but that this growth in humanities support was smaller than the growth in overall foundation giving during the same period. Another finding is that the share of giving for the humanities slipped from 2.5 percent in the early 1990s to 2.1 percent in 2002. The report also lists the 25 U.S. foundations that gave the most grant support to the humanities in 2002, and the major fields and subfields of the humanities that received the most money.