Arts giving grew 5.7% to $13.3 billion in 2010


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Donations to the arts began to rebound in 2010, with an estimated 5.7% increase after a combined drop of 8.2% in the deep recession years of 2008 and 2009, according to the annual report on American philanthropy issued Monday by the Giving USA Foundation. Factoring in inflation, the gain in arts giving was 4.1%.

Estimated largess to the arts, culture and humanities totaled $13.3 billion, up from $12.6 billion in 2009 and 12.8 billion in 2008. But gifts to the arts sector still had not rebounded all the way, falling short of the $13.7 billion prerecession peak of 2007. Americans’ estimated overall charitable giving was $291 billion for 2010, with the arts and culture receiving about 4.6% of the total. Total inflation-adjusted charitable giving remained 11% short of its prerecession peak of about $327 billion.


The arts got almost twice as big a bounce as overall philanthropy, which was up an inflation-adjusted 2.1% for 2010, according to the report. Arts, culture and humanities ranked eighth out of nine sectors identified in the report, finishing higher only than the environment and animals, which received $6.7 billion. Inflation, as calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was 1.6% for the year.

Americans gave about 2% of their disposable income to charity, which is about average given historic norms dating back 56 years, the study found. Religious charities always receive the most, and the $100.6 billion they reaped in 2010 was far more than double the $41.7 billion that went to the second-ranked cause, education. Although inflation-adjusted religious giving decreased 0.8% for the year, it still represented 35% of all U.S. philanthropy.

Individuals and family foundations contributed 87 cents of each charitable dollar (8 cents of that came from dead people, in the form of bequests), according to the report; other foundations gave 8 cents, and corporations a nickel.

The study, researched and written by Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, based its estimates on information from a variety of sources, including the Internal Revenue Service, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, and independent studies of charitable giving by several nonprofit research groups.


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-- Mike Boehm