According to the 2011 Giving USA report, contributions to the arts increased by 5.7% in 2010 (4.1% adjusted for inflation), and increased their share of total charitable contributions by 1%. Arts contributions, in fact, are recovering from 2008-2009's slump almost twice as quickly as charitable contributions overall, lending credence to the notion that the arts may be increasing its mindshare as the initial shocks of 2008's market collapse wear off.
All segments experienced increased or steady levels of contributions, and this year's report may bespeak a brighter economic future, since, as the report states, "charitable giving typically experiences modest increases in post-recessionary years."
Individuals made up almost three-fourths of total charitable contributions, although many of these funds were given to foundations, whose donations make up the second-largest share of the total, at 14%.
Charitable contributions in general have declined since their peak in 2007, after having grown steeply in the late 1990s and more modestly since then. Whether this year's results represent a true "rebound" or merely a temporary gain remains to be seen.
The report, which notes that the arts still only capture 5% of total contributions, also gave figures for donations to religious causes, education, health and other sectors. "As has been the case for 56 years," the report states, "the religion subsector received the largest share of charitable dollars."
According to Giving USA, the report's estimates are "based on econometric studies using tax data, government estimates for economic indicators, and information from other research institutions. Sources of data used in the estimates include the Internal Revenue Service, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Foundation Center, Independent Sector, Council for Aid to Education, National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute and National Council of Churches of Christ."