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Indicator IV-3 State Humanities Council Revenues
NOTE TO READERS: Please include the following reference when citing data from this page: "American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Indicators,".
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Updated (9/14/2012).

Created by Congress in the early 1970s, the state humanities councils are independent, not-for-profit entities that support humanities programs and community-based activities in the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the jurisdictions of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The 56 councils are governed by volunteer boards composed of humanities scholars and members of the general public and receive the majority of their funding from the federal government. While the United States is home to a variety of humanities-focused organizations, councils are the focus of their own indicator because they are the primary channel through which the federal government provides resources to states for the purpose of making the humanities accessible to the general public. (For data on the number and revenues of the larger universe of not-for-profit humanities organizations in the United States, which includes—in addition to the state humanities councils—museums, reading promotion groups, and ethnic and cultural awareness organizations, see Indicator IV-9, Revenues of Not-for-Profit Humanities Organizations.)

The NEH provides each of the councils with an annual supporting grant through its Federal/State Partnership program. The funds are allocated according to a legislatively mandated formula, which directs $200,000 to every council, with the remainder of the appropriated monies being distributed in the following manner:

44% is allocated equally among councils that serve a population of 200,000 or more;
22% is allocated to all councils according to population; and
34% is allocated to councils according to the wishes of the NEH chairperson.

Councils also receive discretionary (nonformula) funding from the NEH. Thus, for example, a portion of the NEH’s appropriation for We the People (a special initiative that directs monies to activities that explore significant themes or events in American history) was distributed to the state councils. In addition, councils receive funding from the NEH in the form of matching grants and are eligible to apply for funding under the NEH’s competitive grant programs.

NEH is not the only source of council funding. Some councils receive monies from other federal sources, and most are funded by their state governments. Most councils also receive at least some funding from private organizations (corporations or foundations) and/or individuals. Councils also raise funds through special projects or sales.

One source of data regarding council revenues is Internal Revenue Service Form 990, which humanities councils, as public charities, are required to submit annually. In the fiscal year (FY) ending in 2010, the 50 state humanities councils and the council for the District of Columbia reported a total of $71.6 million in revenues (2010 dollars), which, once inflation is taken into account, represents a 19% increase over the 1994 level (Figure IV-3a; 1994 is the first year for which data from Form 990 are available for these councils; the five jurisdictional councils are not included because data are not available for all years). But as funding increased, so did population, with the result that per capita revenues remained constant, hovering in the vicinity of 23 cents per U.S. resident (and overseas military service member) over the entire period.

Figure IV-3a, Full Size
Supporting Data Supporting Data

Figure IV-3b presents total and per capita revenues for each of the state councils and the District of Columbia council for FY 2010. In that year, per capita funding levels ranged from five cents for the state of California to over a dollar for the District of Columbia and such states as Alaska, Maine, and Wyoming. The median state per capita revenue level was 30 cents.

Figure IV-3b, Full Size

The Federation of State Humanities Councils’ annual income survey is another rich source of data on council revenues. The Federation collects detailed information from its member councils about the amounts of funding they garner from different sources. Figure IV-3c indicates the relative importance of different funding sources for the councils. In 2011, almost 65% of council funding was from the federal government, nearly all from the NEH. State and local governments contributed the next largest share of council revenue, just under 20%. (This is in contrast with state arts agencies, the bulk of whose funding comes from state government. See Indicator IV-6, State Arts Agencies, for details.) Councils received 11% of their funding from private contributors, and earned approximately 3% via projects and sales.

Figure IV-3c, Full Size
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