Business Contributions to the Arts, 2019 Edition 3

Schwarz, Robert; Cohen, Randy; Fitzsimons, Isaac

In partnership with Americans for the Arts, The Conference Board conducts an annual survey that seeks information regarding businesses’ support for the arts. This edition, fittingly laid out in infographic form for a more visually appealing read, demonstrates that 83 percent of participants expect their support for the arts to remain the same or increase and that their contributions constitute 39 percent of their total charitable giving. Further indicators of the value respondents place on arts contributions include 67 percent indicating that they enable employees to volunteer with arts organizations and a 36 percent increase in the number of respondents that track the outcomes of their donations, both results evidencing strategic intent.


Business Contributions to the Arts, 2019 Edition is the third report published by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts. The survey was conducted in the summer and fall of 2019 and garnered 130 responses, similar to the levels of participation of the last two surveys.  The 2019 Business Contributions to the Arts survey shows that the environment for contributions to the arts is healthy. Participants expect the value or level of their support to remain the same or increase and are leveraging opportunities for employees to engage with arts organizations through volunteer work or other means. More companies are tracking the outcomes of their efforts. These results indicate that more companies are aligning arts contributions programs with business strategy and goals, thus justifying continued giving.

One hundred and twenty-five of those respondents made a contribution to the arts in 2018, and the total amount contributed to the arts was $77.7M (with an average contribution of $631,997). These arts contributions represented 39 percent of respondents’ total charitable giving for 2018. Total arts contributions were split between 66 percent in cash and 34 percent in-kind. While individual respondents’ contribution amounts—and yearly variations in company participation in the survey—can make it difficult to draw definitive conclusions from year-over year comparisons, the level of business support for the arts has been relatively consistent over the past three years.

(Note: This survey and analysis were conducted in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020. Since this time the nation’s arts ecosystem has changed radically—cancelation of thousands of arts and cultural events across the country and billions of dollars of damage. It remains to be seen how much of the insights and predications drawn from last year’s survey will hold true in the coming year.)

Series Title
Business Contributions to the Arts
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