Should taxpayers pay millions of dollars to billion-dollar nonprofits?

Since 2009, the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities awarded grants of $120 million to 71 rich nonprofit organizations, each controlling assets of over $1 billion.

OpenTheBooks – an Illinois-based transparency organization – released its oversight report on all fiscal year 2016 grant-making at the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities (NFA-H) – the umbrella organization over three sub-agencies: the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The Wall Street Journal calls the report “eye-opening.”

In 2016, nonprofit and higher education organizations across America received grants of $183 million. Recipients included 71 financially rich entities –  each with asset bases exceeding $1 billion – that collectively received $20.5 million.

Since 2009, a total of $120 million in NFA-H funding went to prestigious, asset-rich organizations like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, and Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.

  • Entities in Maryland received more than $13 million in NFA-H funding in FY2016. Maryland ranked ninth behind 7 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Nearly $9 million in NFA-H funding went to entities located in Baltimore.
  • The largest recipient in Maryland is the Maryland Department of Education. The department received $2.8 million in NFA-H grants in 2016.
  • The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Inc., a regional not-for-profit organization funded by the National Endowment for the Arts based in Baltimore, received $2.4 million in 2016.
  • The Maryland Humanities Council is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting the humanities and awarding grants to other Maryland entities. The Council received multiple grants totaling $795,940 in FY2016 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Across America, higher education institutions received $45 million in 2016 despite controlling financial assets of $428.3 billion. Six of the eight Ivy League colleges received grants and other schools included Notre Dame, the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan.

The described purpose of the NFA-H is “to develop and promote a broadly conceived national policy of support for the humanities and the arts in the United States.” For the first time, a presidential proposed budget seeks to eliminate federal funding to the NFA-H. Conversely, proponents for the arts and humanities defend federal funding and see a public purpose. Our oversight report raises several questions that should elevate the debate.

Read our entire report here.
Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of, is available for comment.

Press Contact: Jessie Fox, Communications Specialist, (734) 904-7070,