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Study Shows Decline in Contributed Gifts to Arts Organizations

New data from TRG Arts and Purple Seven reveal that philanthropic giving in 2020 is down by 2 percent in North America.

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.: TRG Arts and U.K. arts data specialists Purple Seven have released the COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Insight Report, a new study that shows overall contributions to arts organizations has decreased in the first half of 2020, with some notable exceptions and bright spots.

The study includes data from 105 nonprofit organizations of all scales in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. The report reveals that there has been no aggregate growth in donations, but some individual organizations, particularly ones with a lower ratio of contributed income, have seen substantial increases in gift revenue. Very large gifts of $100,000 and up have sustained overall giving in North America. Compared to contributed revenue in 2019, gifts of more than $100,000 account for 46 percent of all contributed revenue in 2020.

“It is encouraging to see the biggest individual donors digging deep in North America to support the sector,” said TRG chief executive officer Jill Robinson in a statement. “With both new major donors and some donating for the first time in many years, arts and cultural organizations need to show how much they value this support, demonstrate its impact, and maintain and develop dialogues with them to nurture partnerships for the long term.”

On the other hand, the study shows a decline in donations of less than $100,000 the past two months in the U.S. “The concerning findings in this analysis are that donations are down overall, and that a smaller proportion of patrons are supporting at a time when arts organizations need them most,” said Robinson in a statement. “We must prioritize communicating with our audiences and broader communities, take the time to listen to their needs, and plan our work accordingly.”

In the U.K., gifts of more than  £80,000 accounted for 69 percent of all contributed revenue so far this year, up slightly from the first six months of 2019. The study also found that 50 percent of U.K. organizations reported increased donations, 29 percent reported growth of more than 100 percent, and 11 percent reported growth of more than 400 percent.

“It is encouraging to see that some U.K.-based organizations have used the crisis to dramatically increase the volume and value of gifts generated from their patrons.” said Purple Seven CEO Stuart Nicolle in a statement. “To flourish in the future, organizations will need to work hard to ensure this is not a one-off gesture of goodwill but the first step toward growing a more loyal audience that engages both through ticket buying and philanthropy.”

The full COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Insight Report is available here. This study is the second in a series of monthly reports from TRG Arts and Purple Seven, which will be released on a monthly basis as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the arts and culture sector.

ADV – Billboard