Humanities Indicators
Facebook Twitter YouTube
Funding & Research  >  Private Funding
 
Charitable Giving for Humanities Activities
(Updated August 2018)

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).

Findings and Trends

  • In 2017, giving from corporations, foundations, and individuals to ACH organizations reached $19.5 billion—the highest level on record, in inflation-adjusted dollars (Indicator IV-7). According to a recent Giving USA report, many ACH organizations launched large-scale fundraising campaigns in 2015.[1]
  • Donations from charitable sources to ACH organizations increased almost 250% from 1985 to 2000 (rising from $4.3 billion to $15 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars) and then, after a modest decline, experienced another surge up to $17.6 billion in 2007. With the recession came a sharp curtailment of charitable giving to these organizations, with donated monies declining 21% (to $14.0 billion) in 2008—a much steeper drop than for charitable giving generally (7.2%).[2]
  • In recent years, the growth in charitable giving to ACH organizations has outpaced the growth in giving to all organizations. From its recent low point in 2011 to the year 2017, giving to the humanities rose almost 40%, while overall giving increased only about two-thirds as much (26%).
  • In 2017, ACH organizations’ share of all gifts reached 4.8%, the highest recorded level over the time period beginning in 1985 (when ACH giving represented only 2.6% of all charitable giving).
IV-7: 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)
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).
About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/suppIV-7.xls../cmsData/ppt/IV-7.ppt../cmsData/pdf/IV-7.pdf

Endnotes

[1] Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017 (Chicago: Giving USA Foundation, 2018), 249.
[2] See Supporting Table IV-7 for information regarding total giving.