Humanities Indicators
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Not-for-Profit History Organizations and Their Revenues

Among not-for-profit humanities organization types, history organizations (including historical societies, historical preservation groups, the support organizations for historical societies and historical preservation groups, professional societies and associations, and other organizations with a historical focus) are the most numerous. Drawing on tax records extending back to the 1980s, the following indicator tracks the number and revenues of larger not-for-profit history organizations; that is, those with gross receipts of $50,000 or more (and thus required to submit the federal tax forms that are the source of the data underlying this indicator).

Findings and Trends

  • In 2012, 3,603 not-for-profit history organizations had gross receipts of at least $50,000. Median revenues for organizations in this category were $140,038 (Indicator IV-9f).
  • The number of history organizations rose steadily from 1989 to 2004, though their revenues rose much more unevenly (with almost all revenue growth occurring from 1994 to 1999). The number and revenues of these organizations fell slightly from 2004 to 2012 (with their ranks declining from 3,798 to 3,603, and total revenues declining from $2.20 billion to $2.19 billion).
  • The median age (as measured by the number of years since an organization received federal tax-exempt status) of history organizations in 2012 was 29 years—substantially older than the median of 25 years for all not-for-profit humanities organization types considered together.
IV-9f: Numbers and Revenues of Not-for-Profit (NFP) History Organizations, 1989–2012* (Adjusted for Inflation)

* Organizations whose gross receipts were $50,000 or more. Years are “circa” years, a concept developed by the collector of these data to compensate for the often substantial lag between the end of organizations’ fiscal year and their filing of IRS Form 990, the annual financial report required of all public charities—and the source of the data presented in this indicator. For more on circa years and the rationale for excluding organizations with gross receipts of less than $50,000, see “About the Data.”

** Number of years since recognized as “nonprofit” by the federal government.

Source: Original analysis by the Humanities Indicators of data culled from the Internal Revenue Service Form 990 Return Transaction Files by the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics. Revenues were adjusted for inflation using the Gross Domestic Product Implicit Price Deflators produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (annual deflators, vintage 3/27/2015; http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/GDPDEF/downloaddata, accessed 4/6/2015).

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