Charting the Grants
So which politically active organizations are the biggest beneficiaries of community foundation money? Our analysis of grants from nearly 170 community foundations between 2010 and 2019 (2018 in the case of groups with missing Form 990 filings) traced $2.3 billion to 110 left-wing groups and their affiliates.
To sift through tens of thousands of grants and avoid cherry-picking recipients, we identified nonprofits that are prominent in a variety of political causes—such as the Center for American Progress, Planned Parenthood, and Southern Poverty Law Center—or are especially notable for their radicalism (e.g., the communist Alliance for Global Justice) and influence (e.g. the libertarian-turned-lefty Niskanen Center), as well as any local or lobbying affiliates. While not scientific, it gives a sense of just how much the institutional Left depends upon funds flowing through community foundations.
Top recipients include:
- Planned Parenthood, including affiliates: $111 million. America’s largest abortion provider and a pillar of the professional Left
- Earthjustice: $97 million. Sierra Club spin-off that litigates against oil, gas, and coal use and other environmental issues
- Tides Center: $93 million. Tides Foundation arm responsible for incubating new activist groups
- Food & Water Watch: $85 million. Anti-fossil fuel activist group heavily active on the state level
- Sierra Club Foundation: $73 million. 501(c)(3) arm of the country’s oldest environmental organization, which recently disowned founder John Muir as irredeemably racist
- Tides Foundation: $62 million. Key pass-through funder that specializes in using DAFs to bundle donations from liberal donors to politically active nonprofits
- Humane Society of the United States, including affiliates: $57 million. Militant vegetarians lobbying for animal rights and animal-free clothing
- Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: $54 million. Rockefeller Foundation affiliate that provides consulting services to other left-leaning nonprofits related to “social justice,” environmentalism, and similar causes
- American Civil Liberties Union, including affiliates: $49 million. Historic civil liberties litigation group that’s become a hub for left-wing activism and electioneering on behalf of Democrats.
- New Venture Fund: $37 million. Flagship of a $731 million “dark money” network run by Arabella Advisors in Washington, DC, specializing in pass-through donations to activist groups and “popping up” new lobbying campaigns
- Conservation International Foundation: $34 million. Left-leaning climate group that supports international greenhouse gas reductions
- US: $32 million. Mass immigration advocacy group heavily funded by Mark Zuckerberg. Friends of the Earth: $27 million. Dutch environmentalist group associated with the Sierra Club that has expanded into LGBTQ and anti–free speech lobbying.
- Barack Obama Foundation: $20 million. Primarily maintains Chicago’s to-be-completed Obama Presidential Library, but also pushes for continuation of Obama’s policies.
- Human Rights Watch: $17 million. Left-leaning civil liberties group primarily focused on developing countries, criticized for connections to Saudi Arabia and lack of transparency in its funding (e.g., receiving strong support from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations).
- National Audubon Society: $16 million. 19th century conservation nonprofit that has expanded into climate change advocacy.
- Clinton Foundation: $15 million. Enough said.
- Center for Biological Diversity: $14 million. Radical group that has supported voluntary male sterilization to curb global population growth, fought against Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation, and tried to block President Trump’s border wall.
- Environmental Defense Fund: $13 million. “Green” advocacy and litigation group with a lot of “green” ($210 million in 2018).
- org, including affiliates: $12 million. Hard-line environmentalist group founded by Bill McKibben, notably a target of Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans (2020) for selling out to Big Oil.
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center: $12 million. Mass immigration group based in San Francisco.
- Greenpeace Fund: $9.5 million. 501(c)(3) arm of one of the country’s most extreme environmental groups, infamous for opposing modern agriculture and its attention-seeking stunts involving harassing whaling ships in the Pacific Ocean.
- Center for Reproductive Rights: $8.5 million. Pro-abortion litigation group that aims to overturn pro-life laws in conservative states.
- NEO Philanthropy: $6.6 million. Pass-through for liberal donors best known for running the Funders Committee for Civic Participation, an affinity group for leftist donors to strategize over voter mobilization and 2020 Census turnout in order to favor Democrats.
- Vera Institute of Justice: $6.4 million. Originally created to help poor New Yorkers get bail bonds, now a broad advocacy front for “racial justice,” anti-incarceration, and mass immigration policies.
- Center for American Progress: $6.4 million. The Left’s Heritage Foundation—a Democratic Party-aligned think tank founded by Clinton crony John Podesta and funded by a Who’s Who of liberal funders to formulate policy on pretty much every issue.
- New America: $6 million. Think tank epitomizing the technocratic Left founded by the late Ted Halstead with close leadership ties to the Obama administration.
- Anti-Defamation League: $6 million. Originally created in 1913 to combat anti-Semitism, but has since morphed into a general leftist pressure group, even removing the words “anti-Semitism” from its mission statement in recent years.
- Voter Participation Center: $5.6 million. Part of a set of two nonprofits run by the get-out-the-vote guru Page Gardner to register unmarried women and minorities and help Democratic turnout, as well as a key supporter of vote-by-mail in the 2020 election (and beyond).
- American Immigration Council: $5 million. Arm of the American Immigration Lawyers Association responsible for lobbying; regularly cites the hate-spewing Southern Poverty Law Center in its criticism of right-leaning immigration groups.
In the next installment, meet the donors who use community foundations.