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RMI’s Humanity Hating Benefactor

The radical agenda of one RMI donor towers above the others.

Since 2005 the Rocky Mountain Institute has received at least $76.9 million from the Foundation for the Carolinas (FFTC), with at least $58.3 million since 2016. This donor-advised fund (DAF) is by far the largest foundation donor over those periods and possibly the biggest donor to RMI in its history.

In many instances, it is difficult to trace the origin of a grant from a donor-advised fund to an advocacy group, particularly a controversial advocacy group.

For example, the Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund is technically one of the largest charities in the nation. But in truth, Fidelity is a collection of more than 250,000 separate and unaligned charitable donors piggybacking on Fidelity’s charitable tax status. Donors give their gifts to Fidelity, along with instructions regarding where the money should ultimately land.

From 2003 through 2020, the Rocky Mountain Institute received 50 separate grants from Fidelity, cumulatively exceeding $5.1 million. More than a dozen of them were smaller than $10,000, and more than half were $25,000 or less. There is no requirement for Fidelity or RMI to publicly disclose who the original funders really were.

Similarly, since 2014 Rocky Mountain has received more than $2.1 million from 13 separate grants sent through the Schwab Charitable Fund, another of the nation’s large DAFs.

But the source of most and potentially all the $76.9 million sent through the Foundation for the Carolinas DAF is not a mystery. In April 2018 the Knoxville News aptly introduced billionaire Fred Stanback Jr., as an “88-year old North Carolina heir to Stanback’s headache-powder fortune and known proponent of anti-humanist environmentalism . . . the belief that protecting the environment hinges on population control.”

In one single 2014 donation Stanback gave $397 million to his donor-advised account with the Foundation for the Carolinas. FFTC has more than 2,500 clients, but this one donation from Stanback was more than half of total revenue in 2014 or any other year, and in many years exceeds FFTC’s total revenue. In the quarter century through 2023, Stanback is likely responsible for well over $500 million in FFTC grants, and maybe more than $1 billion.

“Numbers of people affect the environment,” said Stanback in 2013. “They want all the nice things that the rest of us have, but America can’t take all the poor people in the world.”

Promotion of abortion, opposition to energy, opposition to immigration, and a general hostility to humanity has been a common theme of Stan back’s donations through FFTC. (“Anti-humanist Environmentalism,” a profile of Stanback, was featured in the 2019 issue of Capital Research magazine.)

Clues of how big he has been giving through FFTC pop up regularly in accolades from the ultimate recipients of the money.

A 2013 annual report from Planned Parenthood Health Systems credited “Fred and Alice Stanback” for a $1.3 million gift.

In 2017, the president of NumbersUSA, an anti-immigration group, said Stanback had been “very supportive of our efforts because he sees there’s no way to create sustainability in this country if we keep adding 2.5 or 3 million people a year.”

FoundationSearch records show Numbers USA received $13 million from FFTC over an eight-year period through 2016. Total annual revenue received by NumbersUSA from 2009 to the present has rarely exceeded $7 million.

Similarly, a 2020 report in the Washington Free Beacon identified Stanback with $33 million in total donations to Population Connection, the group formerly known as Zero Population Growth. The group was founded by Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, an alarmist 1970 book that predicted global starvation due to overcrowding.

The Free Beacon also tied $200 million in total donations funneled through FFTC, from Stanback to the Southern Environmental Law Center, a public interest law firm that shares the Rocky Mountain Institute’s hostility to domestic energy production.

A 2014 annual report from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) also thanks the Stanbacks for a “$100,000+” donation—the highest giving level listed that year. CBD is opposed to developing conventional energy from hydrocarbons, opposed to production of zero-carbon nuclear energy, promotes male sterilizations and in 2021 equated abortion rights with “environmental justice.”

Sterilize people, abort them, starve them of energy—it’s nearly the entire Fred Stanback worldview in one spot. The Center for Biological Diversity received more than $1 million from the Foundation for the Carolinas in 2021, the same year the Rocky Mountain Institute took in $14 million.

Asking whether these and other 2021 FFTC gifts were from Stanbacks leads to another question: “which Stanbacks?”

Recent annual reports from RMI credits Fred and Alice Stanback with gifts of $1 million or more. Bradford G. Stanback & Shelli Lodge-Stanback are also repeatedly credited with donations of $500,000 to $1 million.

Bradford is the son of Fred and Alice. Brad & Shelli might also be giving to RMI through FFTC. Fred is now more than 90 years old, but his pipeline of people pruning dollars to RMI may be set for a long time.

In the next installment, RMI has received massive financial support from corporate America.

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
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