Private giving to arts organizations comes primarily from individuals, but also from foundations, corporations, and bequests. Private funds represent about a third of the total income stream of nonprofit arts groups. Giving USA (a reliable annual review of private philanthropy) estimates total private dollars going to arts and culture, one of several areas of nonprofit service. Arts support was $13.12 billion in 2011 compared to giving of $100.63 billion to religion, $38.9 billion to education, $35.4 billion to human services, $25.8 billion to foundations, $21.4 billion to public society benefit, and $24.8 billion to health.

This indicator measures total private giving to arts and culture organizations in each county in 2010, divided by the county’s 2010 population to create a per capita figure. These revenues certainly come from local residents, foundations, and businesses, but may also include outside sources. Like program revenues, contributions may move from place to place. While consumers of program services pay program revenues (they are more likely to be local), contributed revenues might as well come from either individuals or institutions (foundations, businesses) from outside the area, especially when local arts organizations obtain regionally- or nationally-funded grants.

In parallel with the program revenue indicator, then, this indicator shows the capacity of local organizations to raise revenue from contributors – recognizing with the distinction that it is more likely that some contributed revenue is imported into the area from outside sources. For example, prominent arts organizations in New York City receive national support. Because arts organizations do not report their funding sources uniformly to the IRS, it is not possible to know how big a share of total this “outside money” is. Still, contribution revenue can be interpreted per capita as a county’s arts organizations’ ability to raise revenue from donors (of all types and in all places) to finance arts programming for county residents.

Data for this indicator are from the 2010 Core Files at the National Center for Charitable Statistics.

Additional Information: Counties with indicator value = 2,510. Average county indicator value = $33.88. Median county indicator value = $9.91.


Fast Facts from the Arts Index

U.S. Share of World Creative Goods Trade is Rebounding! Overall, America’s role in global cultural trade declined steadily from 2002 through 2009, but we have seen a rebound in 2010 and 2011. Almost all of this is due to exports, which change more—both up and down—than imports in the U.S. Trade surpluses are good news for the U.S. economy!