Arts Features General

Giving USA 2021 – Charitable giving is up, arts organizations need support to recover

The unprecedented times of a global pandemic resulted in unprecedented giving in 2021, with Americans distributing over $471 billion to charity in 2020 according to Giving USA 2021 – a 5.1% increase over 2019. Contributions increased from individuals, foundations, and bequests, but corporate giving went down 6.1% compared to 2019.

Unsurprisingly, giving to organizations providing human services increased by 9.7% and a decline of 7.5% to arts, culture, and humanities organizations-likely due to the cancellation of events and performance, which is the primary source of giving and revenue for arts organizations.

Giving is increasing much in part to the charitable giving of billionaires who saw their wealth skyrocket throughout the pandemic. Major gifts from billionaires, including MacKenzie Scott, former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, assisted with the overall increase in giving. Between individual giving (69%) and bequests (9%), individuals account for 78% of total giving, with foundations (9%) and corporations (4%) rounding out total giving. This is the largest amount of bequests recorded by Giving USA; therefore, nonprofits might want to consider how their planned giving programs are structured or work with their local community foundations to learn more about their planned giving process.

North Texas is home to nearly 700 arts organizations. Whether it is attending a performance, visiting a museum, or purchasing gifts from local artisans, we must support our local arts organizations as part of ongoing recovery efforts if we want them to survive.

Arts organizations: Be sure to share your news with us at and submit your upcoming events to the free DFW501C Nonprofit Business Journal Calendar.

You can purchase a copy of Giving USA online, or download the infographic for free, to learn more about charitable giving within the United States. publishes every week.
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About the author

Colton Strawser, Ph.D., CFRE

Colton C. Strawser, Ph.D., CFRE is the President of Colton Strawser Consulting. His work focuses on empowering organizations to create change through research, evaluation, fundraising, and capacity building. He can be found on Twitter at @Colton_Strawser.