July 14, 2006
Did You Know?
Individuals Donated $199 Billion to Charitable Organizations in 2005
Donations from individuals are a critical source of contributed income for most arts organizations. Between 2004 and 2005, individual donations to charitable organizations increased by 6.4% to 199 billion, according to the latest Giving USA report. Every year, arts and cultural organizations must compete with many other causes and sectors for the attention and support of American donors.
The complexity of individual giving was explored in research released earlier this year by The Center on Philanthropy. Their research found that 67% of American households annually contribute $25 or more to charities, charitable causes or nonprofit organizations. Donor households contributed an average of $1,872 in 2002.
Arts donors were found in 8% of American households and were estimated to have each contributed an annual average of $215 to cultural organizations. Income and education level were significant factors in a household’s decision to give to the arts, and arts supporters were also likely to be volunteers or donors to other sectors. In fact, arts donors were described as more likely to give to a variety of causes, primarily secular ones, than households that did not give to the arts.
Research such as this can provide cultural organizations with useful insight into the behavior of potential supporters. Arts organizations might wish to consider how best to design funding appeals and volunteer opportunities that attract individuals with broadly diversified interests. Arts groups may also want to ask, “Since our donors are receiving solicitations from so many other organizations, what can we do to make our request special?”
Sources: 2005 (“Charitable Giving Rises 6 Percent to More than $260 Billion in 2005”) Giving USA Foundation, 2006. “Executive Summary Charitable Giving to Education, Health and Arts: An Analysis of Data Collection in the Center of Philanthropy Panel Study, 2003,” Campbell & Company, April 2006.
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