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SMU Meadows School of the Arts by Kim Leeson Photography SMU Meadows School of the Arts by Kim Leeson Photography

COVID-19 and Philanthropy: Who is Giving?

The following is an excerpt from an insight report published on November 11, 2020, "COVID-19 and Philanthropy: Who is Giving?" that is part of a larger project, the COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard conducted by TRG Arts, which is helping arts organizations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. understand how the COVID-19 virus has affected their operations.

Key Findings

  • Data from 117 CRMs of arts organizations show that the impact on giving from COVID-19 appears to be worsening.
  • Despite strong performance at the start of the pandemic, funds raised from individual giving in the first nine months of 2020 have declined by 14% in North America and 42% in the U.K.
  • The number of gifts given has risen in North America, but the average value of gifts has fallen. In the U.K. both the volume and average value of gifts has fallen.
  • In both the U.K. and North America, the most loyal customers of organizations continue to be the most important segment for giving revenues.

 

North America

  • In the first nine months of 2020, the number of gifts received rose by 15% but the average value of those gifts fell by 24%.
  • The number of gifts given per month was higher than 2019 in every month until July. In July, August, and September both gift numbers and gift revenue were lower than in 2019.
  • The largest growth in the number of gifts has come from the most loyal ‘Super Active’ patrons, but the average size of gifts from these patrons has fallen by 38%.
  • North American organizations continue to be heavily reliant on gifts from individuals with no previous box office or philanthropic history, but the average size of gifts from these patrons has fallen 28% in the first nine months of 2020.

 

United Kingdom

  • In the first nine months of 2020, the number of gifts received fell by 35% and the average value of those gifts fell by 11%.
  • There was a spike in the value of gifts of less than £1 million in April at the time when many organizations in both the U.K and North America were encouraging ticket holders to make donations rather than request a refund for cancelled performances.
  • 74% of all gift revenue received in the first nine months of 2020 came from the most loyal ‘Super Active’ patrons.
  • The monthly number and cumulative value of gifts from “Super Active” patrons compared to 2019 has dropped sharply since June (down 47% and 89% respectively).

 

Read the Report

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard, developed by TRG Arts in collaboration with U.K.-based audience analytics company Purple Seven, launched in early April 2020. The dashboard, which is free, provides near real-time intelligence and advice to help arts leaders see results as they respond to the pandemic. The project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to SMU DataArts, TRG Arts' longtime partner in advancing the arts and cultural sector. 

 

When an organization signs up for the dashboard, an automated data feed is set up between the organization’s box office and the dashboard’s secure server. The automated feed provides a daily update on ticket sales, refunds, and donations for the organization. In addition, data from all other organizations participating in the dashboard is aggregated in an anonymous format to create a national benchmark, which shows up on the dashboard and allows an organization to see how it compares with a large group of its peers. The dashboard is entirely anonymous, so no one else’s sales figures or customer data are identifiable to an organization. The dashboard provides daily insights for individual organizations that they can share with constituents and stakeholders; reveals sector trends in almost real-time, which can assist in short- and long-term planning; allows arts leaders and policymakers to track daily sales data across entire sectors; and by data gathering and benchmarking across the U.K., Canada, and the U.S., gives a clearer picture of the effects of the virus on the arts sector and the recovery in each country. Monthly Insight Reports will be posted on the SMU DataArts and TRG Arts websites. Read more in the press release.

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