You point to the experience of the United States, where overall levels of giving are about 2 per cent of GDP, compared to less than 1 per cent here in the UK. It is not because more people in the US give; participation in giving is about the same in both countries. For a number of reasons, key among them being tax incentives, amounts given are higher there. What a direct tax incentive for donors does change is the size of the donation, making it possible for people wanting to support an organisation to do so far more substantially.
Direct tax incentives for donations in the US exist for all gifts for qualified educational and charitable organisations, including, but certainly not limited to, arts organisations. They have been crucial for higher education, where individual contributions are the only funding source which is growing, accounting for 8-10 per cent of annual income, and far higher percentages of capital and endowment funding.
The need for raising substantial private funds for the arts - as well as charities, schools and universities - is now a challenging reality in Britain. Direct tax incentives could provide invaluable help to all these organisations in meeting that challenge.
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