Humanities Indicators
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Funding & Research  >  Not-for-Profit Humanities Organizations
Not-for-Profit Writing, Book, and Literature Organizations and Their Revenues

Organizations that support creative writing and an appreciation of books and literature support the development of key humanities skills. Organizations included in this category foster the practice of creative writing (including poetry) and the appreciation of existing literature separate from the work of libraries. Drawing on tax records extending back to the 1980s, the following indicator tracks the number and revenues of larger not-for-profit organizations of this type; that is, those with gross receipts of $50,000 or more (and thus required to submit the federal tax forms that are source of the data underlying this indicator).

Findings and Trends

  • The number of organizations focused on writing, books, and literature with gross receipts of over $50,000 increased from 74 in 1989 to 175 in 2004 and 2012 (the number peaked at 183 in 2009; Indicator IV-9i).
  • Total revenues for such organizations increased sharply from 1989 to 1999 (from $32.3 million to $71.5 million) but then slowed to a more modest growth rate that extended through 2012. Their revenues reached $81 million in that year, with median revenues per organization of $194,353.
  • The median age (as measured by the number of years since an organization received federal tax-exempt status) of writing, book, and literature organizations in 2012 was 18 years—substantially younger than the median of 25 years for all not-for-profit humanities organization types considered together.

IV-9i: Numbers and Revenues of Not-for-Profit (NFP) Writing, Book, and Literature 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;, accessed 4/6/2015).

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