Amer­i­cans feel gen­er­ous to arts

Do­na­tions in cul­ture cat­e­gory grew 9.4% in 2014 to $17.2 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to re­port.

Los Angeles Times - - CULTURE MONSTER - By Mike Boehm

Amer­i­cans’ do­na­tions to arts and cul­ture rose 9.4% in 2014, the high­est in­crease in cat­e­gories tracked by Giv­ing USA, an an­nual re­port on char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tions.

Over­all, how­ever, arts and cul­ture com­manded a mod­est share of the phil­an­thropic pie. Es­ti­mated gifts to arts and cul­ture to­taled $17.2 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the re­port com­piled by In­di­ana Univer­sity’s Lilly Fam­ily School of Phi­lan­thropy.

Although that was a record high, it rep­re­sented only 4.8% of the $358.4-bil­lion to­tal.

Giv­ing to all char­i­ta­ble sec­tors rose 5.5% in a year when in­vest­ment mar­kets re­mained gen­er­ally fa­vor­able.

The re­port at­trib­uted much of the over­all growth to large gifts be­tween $200 mil­lion and nearly $2 bil­lion. “The ma­jor­ity of these megagifts were given by rel­a­tively young tech en­trepreneurs,” said a sum­mary of the re­port is­sued Mon­day.

Arts, cul­ture and the hu­man­i­ties was the sev­en­thranked re­cip­i­ent, ahead of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs ($15.1 bil­lion) and en­vi­ron­ment and an­i­mals ($10.5 bil­lion), but far be­hind the peren­nial leader, re­li­gion ($114.9 bil­lion).

Other cat­e­gories were ed­u­ca­tion ($54.6 bil­lion), con­tri­bu­tions to foun­da­tions ($41.6 bil­lion), hu­man ser­vices ($42.1 bil­lion), health ($30.4 bil­lion) and public ben­e­fit or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the United Way and Jewish fed­er­a­tions ($26.3 bil­lion).

Some of the money do­nated in other cat­e­gories even­tu­ally gets fun­neled to arts and cul­ture. For ex­am­ple, Giv­ing USA counts gifts for arts fa­cil­i­ties and in­struc­tion on col­lege cam­puses un­der the ed­u­ca­tion head­ing, in­stead of as gifts to the arts.

Giv­ing to re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions grew 2.5% in 2014, but its share of the pie con­tin­ued to shrink in what the re­port de­scribes as “a 30-year dra­matic down­ward slide.”

In the 1980s, re­li­gion com­manded 53% of Amer­ica’s phil­an­thropic dol­lars; now, with fewer peo­ple iden­ti­fy­ing with a re­li­gion or at­tend­ing wor­ship ser­vices, the fig­ure is 32%. The “Giv­ing USA” sum­mary at­tributes the change to baby boomers be­ing less re­li­gious than their par­ents, with “younger age groups … fol­low­ing the same path.”

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