COVID-19 Sector Benchmark: Insight Report June 2020

July 28, 2020
TRG Arts and Purple Seven by David Brownlee and Eric Nelson for TRG Arts and Purple Seven

Individual Donations – Is New Philanthropic Income Replacing Lost Ticket Income?

Executive Summary – Key Findings

  • Data from 105 CRM systems suggest there has been no aggregate growth in donations to performing arts organizations in 2020 in either the United Kingdom or North America.
  • Aggregate totals mask strong growth by some organizations, particularly those with a lower initial level of contributed income.
  • Even in an unparalleled crisis, organizations that invest in building relationships with loyal audiences are best placed to weather the storm. In 2020, as in 2019, the most loyal ticket purchasers also contributed the most in donations with further growth in the proportion of contributed revenue from ‘Super Active’ customers, particularly in the U.K.

North America

  • After a strong start to the year compared to 2019, North American aggregate individual donations dropped in March before recovering in April, falling significantly in May and then performing well in June.

In the first six months of 2020:

  • Overall donations have fallen by just 2% from the same period in 2019.
  • 33% of North American organizations reported increased donations, and 11% reported growth of over 100%.
  • Overall giving has been sustained thanks to an increase in the value of very large gifts ($100K+).
  • Gifts of over $100K accounted for 46% of all contributed revenue, up from 36% for the same period in 2019.


In the first six months of 2020:

  • The value of aggregate gifts in the U.K. has decreased by 12% compared to the same period in 2019.
  • Gifts of over £80K accounted for 69% of all contributed revenue, up slightly from 68% during the first six months of 2019.
  • 50% of U.K. organizations reported increased donations, 29% reported growth of over 100%, and 11% reported growth of over 400%.


TRG Arts and Purple Seven have partnered to provide real-time intelligence and advice to the arts and cultural sector on the economic impact of COVID-19 and how best to respond to it. This partnership brings together Purple Seven’s experience integrating live sales feeds from hundreds of arts venues and TRG Arts’ consulting and data analysis expertise in achieving unsurpassed results for the arts and cultural sector.

In the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, cultural organizations are invited to sign up to a free and easy to use international COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard. An automated data feed between the organization’s box office and Purple Seven’s secure servers provides a daily update on ticket sales, refunds and donations which is anonymized and aggregated for the national benchmark.

TRG Arts and Purple Seven intend to share new findings from the national benchmarks on a frequent basis during the crisis. An initial study published in June 2020 focused on the comparative impact of COVID-19 on ticket sales in North America and the U.K. from January to May 2020.

This second study examines trends in individual giving in the first half of 2020. While ticket sales have fallen dramatically, have levels of giving proved more resilient—or even grown—thanks to the conversion of refunded ticket income to gifts?

Continue Reading: Download the full Insights Report

Sign up for the free Dashboard

TRG Arts is continually studying the impact of COVID-19 on the resiliency of the arts and cultural sector.

COVID-19 International Sector Benchmark studies live transactional data from across the globe. See your organization's near real-time sales and giving data in your Dashboard and understand the effects of COVID-19 on your operations against a benchmark of similar organizations. Over 400 arts organizations are using the Dashboard to understand how audiences are responding to their ticketing and giving campaigns.

Participation is Free: Register Today
Download the UK Press Release Download the North American Press Release

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts through our partnership with SMU DataArts.