CINCINNATI - Charitable giving to arts and cultural institutions across the U.S. is on the rise for the first time in five years.
That’s one of the more surprising findings in this year’s Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, a publication of Giving USA Foundation. The report is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Contributions to arts, cultural and humanities organizations grew by an estimated 7.8 percent in 2012, according to the report. That compares to an overall increase in charitable giving of 3.5 percent for the year.
In all, Americans donated an estimated $316 billion to charities in 2012, according to the report.
“I had seen this trend for five years, this kind of decline (in giving to the arts), and I was kind of worried,” said Melissa Brown, former managing editor of Giving USA, who was in Cincinnati Tuesday for the report’s release. “To see it grow at two times the rate of other charitable giving was surprising.”
Brown spoke to WCPO Digital after the publication’s findings were released at a briefing at Cincinnati Museum Center.
She said the additional giving to the arts, in particular, tells her that the economic squeeze that has affected charitable giving has let up a bit.
Room For Joy
“I think it’s a change in the mood of people,” she said. “We have room in our lives again for the things that give us joy.”
Brown noted that there’s a strong link between charitable giving and how much people earn. But there’s also a powerful connection between how much people contribute to nonprofits and their fear of losing their jobs or wealth, she said.
“If you have a sense that your income could be cut any day, you’re less likely to give,” she said. “Giving to the arts is an indication to me that people are starting to feel like it’s not so bleak.”
Charities focused on the environment and animals also saw a significant increase in contributions, with annual growth of 6.8 percent, according to the study.
International giving leveled off to a modest increase of 2.5 percent with fewer high-profile international disasters than in previous years.
Giving to religion was virtually flat, according to the study, but giving to religions continues to make up the largest share of charitable dollars – an estimated 32 percent of the more than $316 billion that was contributed overall.
Education and human services tied for the second-largest proportion of charitable giving, with each getting 13 percent of the total.
Another 10 percent of total giving went to independent, community and operating grant-making foundations.
And the health sector got the fourth-largest share of charitable dollars, with an estimated 9 percent of the total.
The complete Giving USA 2013 report, which estimates 2012 giving, is available at www.givingusareports.org. A free executive summary also is available.
Smith Beers Yunker & Co., Inc. was the organizing sponsor for the local briefing. Presenting sponsors included Better Business Bureau, Clark Schaefer Hackett, Fifth Third Foundation, Gallagher SKS, Graydon Head, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation and United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
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