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How Much Do Americans Contribute to Arts and Culture? [2000]


Household Contributions to Charitable Organizations in General

Nearly nine out of ten households (89%) reported making a charitable contribution, in the form of cash, property, and other items of value, to religious and secular organizations in the year 2000 [Independent Sector.. 2001. Giving and Volunteering in the United States, 2001. Washington D.C.: Independent Sector. (http://www.independentsector.org/programs/research/gv01main.html)]. The average annual contribution for contributing households was $1,620; the average annual household income was $56,535. This means that, in 2000, contributing households gave, on average, 3.1% of their annual incomes to charitable organizations. (This proportion was obtained by taking the average percentage of household income contributed to charitable organizations by each household and calculating a weighted mean.)

Americans contribute larger sums as their average household income increases, according to the 2001 Giving and Volunteering survey. In the year 2000, contributing households with annual incomes of less than $25,000 gave an average of $587 to charitable organizations, while households with incomes in excess of $100,000 gave an average of $3,976. Yet, what is notable is that people in the lower income brackets gave a higher proportion of their income to charitable causes than did those in the higher income categories. People with household annual incomes of less than $25,000 gave 4.2% of their income to charity; the corresponding figure for those with household incomes in excess of $100,000 was only 2.7%.

Graph: average charitable contribution by income - 2000.

Graph: percentage of household income contributed to charity - 2000, by income level.

Household Contributions to Arts, Culture and Humanities Organizations

Among contributing households (89% of all households in 2000), about one in five (18.8%) reported giving to arts, culture and humanities organizations in 2000, according to data from the 2001 Giving and Volunteering in the United States survey [Independent Sector.. 2001. Giving and Volunteering in the United States, 2001. Washington D.C.: Independent Sector. (http://www.independentsector.org/programs/research/gv01main.html)]. This figure is lower than the comparable figures for six other types of charitable organizations -- religious charities ranked first (68.6%), followed by health (43%), human services (39.3%), youth development (38.3%), education (33.8%), and environmental/animal welfare (21.5%) charities. Only public and societal organizations (12.6%), private and community foundations (8.3%), international and foreign programs (7.1%), and adult recreation programs (6.7%) received fewer contributions.

Graph: percentage of households contributing to charitable organizations - 2001.

Just as religious organizations received the greatest number of household contributions, they also received the highest average dollar contributions ($1,358) from contributing households. Religious organizations received more than twice the average contribution received by the charitable organization that was ranked second (education -- $508). Arts, culture and humanities organizations received an average contribution of $234, ranking ninth in the ordered listing of charitable organizations by average household dollar contribution.

Graph: average household dollar contributions to charities - 2000, by organization type.

Motivations for Giving to Arts, Culture and Humanities Organizations

Respondents to the 2001 Giving and Volunteering in the United States survey were asked a series of questions regarding their motivations for contributing to arts, culture and humanities organizations in the year 2000. Respondents were given examples of motivating factors and asked if these played any part in their decision to contribute. More than four out of five respondents (82.7%) said their giving was influenced by the argument that "those who have more should give to those who have less." The least popular motivating factor was the desire "to get a tax deduction"; fewer than one in three (30.2%) said this influenced their decision to make a contribution to arts, culture and humanities organizations.

Graph: reasons for contributing to arts, culture, and humanities organizations - 2000.

 

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