DonorsTrust is a not-for-profit company that distributes millions of dollars in grants each year to groups, organizations and projects that are “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.” DonorsTrust (DT) regularly distributes to conservative causes, many of which deny the science and impacts of human-caused climate change or the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund share the same address1Contact Us – DonorsTrust,” DonorsTrust. Archived June 18, 2016. Archive URL: in Alexandria, Virginia, and share a number of directors, including the late Whitney Ball, the former CEO of DT.2Contact Us,” DonorsTrust. Archived February 15, 2019. URL:

Whitney Ball passed away in August of 2015.3A Tribute to Whitney Ball,” American Legislator (ALEC Blog), August 18, 2015. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: DonorsTrust announced that Lawson Bader would take Ball’s place as CEO of DonorsTrust on September 22, 2015, after having completed three years as president and CEO at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Bader was also the previous Vice President of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.4DonorsTrust’s New CEO,” DonorsTrust, September 22, 2015. Archived September 23, 2015. Archive URL:

form on the DT website asking readers to start a fund or to donate cash also includes a statement of affirmation that clearly illustrates the ideological drive behind the money. The statement reads:5“Support DonorsTrust” (PDF), DonorsTrust, September 2007. Archived March 9, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

“I agree that it is wrong that the fortunes of successful Americans are being used to fund political and social causes that undermine the free market economy and traditional American ideals. That’s why I want to help you and DonorsTrust build a credible foundation alternative that can fund good conservative and liberty-oriented causes well into the future.”

DT says the organization is “explicitly devoted to supporting organizations that promote liberty” and to “encourage philanthropy and individual giving and responsibility, as opposed to governmental involvement, as an answer to society’s needs.”6Mission & Principles,” DonorsTrust. Archived February 15, 2019. URL:

2013 investigation by Mother Jones describes DT and DCF as the “dark money ATM” of the conservative movement in the US.7Andy Kroll. “Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement,” Mother Jones, February 5, 2013. Archived July 24, 2015. URL:

Documenting the growth of DT and DCF, Mother Jones found that in 2002 DT and DCF brought in $1.4 million and gave out $1.2 million. By 2010, the two funds attracted $44 million in funding and handed out $63 million of grants.8Andy Kroll. “Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement,” Mother Jones, February 5, 2013. Archived July 24, 2015. URL:

In 2013, as of March 2015 data, DT‘s tax form showed it brought in $103 million in funds, handed out $38.4 million in grants and held $102 million in assets.9Donors Trust, Inc. Form 990 (2013). Archived July 24, 2015.

Distribution of Funds

DonorsTrust creates accounts known as “donor-advised funds” for conservative philanthropists and groups and then distributes that money to projects that match their ideologies on their behalf. This arrangement also has the effect of concealing the identity of the original donor.

Funders looking to set up accounts of $1 million or more are directed by DonorsTrust to its partner organization, Donors Capital Fund (DCF).

2015 Greenpeace Investigation

A December, 2015 undercover investigation by Greenpeace uncovered more details on the DonorsTrust process.10Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan. “Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding,” GreenPeace EnergyDesk, December 8, 2015. Archive URL:

Undercover journalists approached William Happer to produce a paper for a fictional oil and gas company in the Middle East. Happer suggested that funds be channeled through the CO2 Coalition, of which he was a board member. Fellow CO2 Coalition Board Member Bill O’keefe suggested that the funds be channeled through DonorsTrust. View the email chain between Happer and DonorsTrust here.

Investigators then asked Peter Lipsett, director of growth strategies at DonorsTrust, if the Trust would accept money from the (fictional) oil and gas company based in the Middle East. Lipsett responded that, while the trust required that funds come from a U.S. Bank Account, “we can take it from a foreign body, it’s just we have to be extra cautious with that.”11Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan. “Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding,” GreenPeace EnergyDesk, December 8, 2015. Archive URL:

He added that: “I’ll double check everything and make sure I’m wording things  correctly after chatting with our CFO [Chief Financial Officer], but what he’s told me before is that the preference is to have it in US dollars, and the ideal preference is to have it originate from a US source, but the US dollars is the important bit.”12Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan. “Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding,” GreenPeace EnergyDesk, December 8, 2015. Archive URL:

DonorsTrust confirmed in a taped conversation with an undercover reporter that it could anonymously channel money from a fictional Middle Eastern oil and gas company to US climate sceptic organizations. (View audio file below).

“We only accept donations in U.S. currency and drawn from U.S. banks. DonorsTrust has never accepted secret donations from foreign donors. We have supported over 1,500 organizations representing the arts, medicine and science, public policy, education, religion, and civics. We are no more a “middle man” between donors and their causes than any other community or commercial donor-advised fund sponsoring organization,” Lipsett said. [16]

Stance on Climate Change

As a funding organization neither DonorsTrust, nor its sister funder Donors Capital Fund, take positions on the science of human-caused climate change.

However, the groups and projects given grants from DCF and DT are among the most active in questioning the link between fossil fuel emissions and climate change and blocking attempts to legislate against greenhouse gas emissions.

These groups include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.


DonorsTrust is a vehicle for rich conservative philanthropists and their organizations to distribute money to projects that match their ideology of low government regulation and “free markets.”

In recent years, the amount of money coming in to DT has risen sharply. In 2003, grants to DT totaled just $1.03 million. Between 2012 and 2013, contributions and grants to DT went up from $45.9 million to $103.4 million.

Some of these monies can be accounted for through the tax declarations of other organizations. The origins of any cash coming from corporations or individuals are not known.

Notable contributors include the Knowledge and Progress Fund (KPF), which has not given cash to any organization other than DT or DCF since 2005.

DeSmogBlog’s own analysis shows that in the four years of IRS tax returns from 2010 to 2013, the KPF donated $7.65 million to DonorsTrust.

The $4.85 million KPF grant to DonorsTrust for “general operating support” in 2013 is likely the largest ever single donation to DonorsTrust in its history.

Oil billionaire and major Republican benefactor Charles Koch, his wife Liz and son Charles Chase Koch are all KPF directors.

Charles Koch’s long-standing advisor Richard Fink, who also directs other Koch-linked foundations as well as holding board positions on several Koch Industries companies, is also a director at KPF. The Charles G. Koch Foundation is another Koch-industry linked organization handing cash to DT.13“Market Based Man” (PDF), Philanthropy Vol. XXV, No. 4 (Fall, 2011). Archived July 24, 2015.

Groups Funded by DonorsTrust

Below is a partial list of groups funded by DonorsTrust from 2002 to 2017, compiled from data retrieved from Conservative Transparency and through review of public 990 forms by DeSmog. Note that not all individual funding values have been verified.

See the attached spreadsheet for complete data on all recipients and DonorsTrust’s donations by year (.xlsx).14Top Supporters of DonorsTrust,” Conservative Transparency. Archived July 24, 2015.

Organization2002200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018Grand Total
Judicial Education Project        $50,000$645,000$1,470,000$7,277,000$7,684,000$9,880,000$8,790,000$6,964,550$42,760,550
Americans for Prosperity Foundation  $200,250$203,800$10,000$427,000$1,534,750$7,648,911$859,200$841,000$3,323,500$6,960,000$5,659,000$2,336,220$958,700$1,242,650$32,204,981
Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies$5,000$2,500 $10,000 $214,500$14,000$484,500$1,418,000$1,910,000$2,457,500$3,328,600$4,467,000$3,426,500$5,528,500$5,989,500$29,256,100
Cause of Action         $1,950,000$4,350,000$4,000,000$4,900,000$2,000,000$750,000 $17,950,000
Mercatus Center   $3,000$9,500$24,950$103,300$913,200$296,700$3,783,500$1,783,250$3,161,850$4,712,400$165,860$144,100$890,590$15,992,200
State Policy Network$1,500$1,750$2,500$10,200$3,000$500$14,700$526,100$110,700$368,050$295,950$504,549$351,582$64,000$5,749,800$7,539,300$15,544,181
George Mason University  $13,500$370,000$18,000$139,750$178,750$520,000$81,000$133,500$511,500$10,000$61,000$30,000$4,620,000$5,445,250$12,132,250
Discovery Institute    $49,500  $250,000$750,000$1,250,000$750,000$1,525,500$750,500$2,250,000$1,006,000$2,001,000$10,582,500
Project Veritas        $25,000$124,450$242,055$515,593$2,515,502$1,685,100$2,436,000$2,193,750$9,737,450
Competitive Enterprise Institute$5,350$5,750$6,750$7,250$105,250$16,200$5,800$58,200$377,200$1,437,200$1,981,750$1,193,850$1,654,850$1,121,250$547,000$634,200$9,157,850
Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives      $74,000 $180,500$25,000$410,000$2,580,750$1,500,500$2,053,000$430,450$1,546,536$8,800,736
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow     $495,500$874,194$1,280,753$1,189,730$3,694,210$305,000 $6,000 $10,000 $7,855,387
Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity      $33,800$15,000$1,104,000$2,650,000$421,720$101,000$915,000$392,285$219,168$50,000$5,901,973
Lucy Burns Institute     $12,800$63,600  $100,000$25,000 $135,000$55,500$2,500,000$2,799,000$5,690,900
Independent Women’s Forum$2,500$100 $5,000 $35,000$3,020,000$12,250$320,254$195,000$30,000$80,000$145,000$360,000$792,000$625,000$5,622,104
Foundation for Government Accountability           $625,000$540,451$326,000$1,959,900$2,088,700$5,540,051
Heartland Institute    $500$11,750$516,750$2,250 $100,750    $1,865,000$2,901,100$5,398,100
Consumers’ Research          $120,000$745,000$1,785,000$1,185,000$720,000$475,000$5,030,000
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Legal Foundation       $1,150,000$2,040,000$915,000  $245,000$15,000  $4,365,000
Wyoming Liberty Group       $6,000 $150,000$145,000 $375,000$1,630,000$1,035,000$980,000$4,321,000
Citizens Against Government Waste   $300$100   $3,650,000 $94,000     $3,744,400
Mackinac Center for Public Policy $250$250$100$500$5,500 $1,000   $78,200$26,700$151,200$1,041,800$2,361,200$3,666,700
Middle East Forum  $5,000$5,000$6,000$1,000$1,000$10,000$15,000$10,000$12,500$30,000$50,000$50,000$1,425,000$1,962,500$3,583,000
Institute for Humane Studies$3,000$5,350$13,750$18,450$10,550$19,200$24,050$20,850$494,800$186,250$178,750$422,900$871,250$404,300$321,800$489,400$3,484,650
FreedomWorks Foundation   $2,000$1,000$1,000$19,000$41,000$788,423$301,000$6,000$1,412,000$305,000$136,290$275,600$109,100$3,397,413
Market Research Foundation           $1,000,000 $725,000$560,000$1,000,000$3,285,000
Government Accountability Institute          $1,500,000$500,000$500,000  $750,000$3,250,000
Reason Foundation$6,250$4,500$32,500$35,500$4,250  $30,550$315,300$342,700$456,700$274,450$367,950$485,840$301,000$561,700$3,219,190
Center for Individual Rights   $300    $86,000$151,000$645,000$1,113,500$294,500$852,500$10,500$22,500$3,175,800
Free to Choose Network/Palmer R. Chitester Fund   $3,000$500  $250$155,000$203,500$150,000$152,500$152,500$314,000$750,000$1,181,000$3,062,250
Atlas Economic Research Foundation$5,700$12,000$2,000$18,750$37,500$78,100$107,500$38,750$62,900$196,600$253,150$261,000$339,250$1,308,390$61,100$220,350$3,003,040
Donors Capital Fund   $298,170$573,906$134,834 $1,253,362$508,936  $24,044    $2,793,252
NumbersUSA $15,000$5,000$72,000$196,750$1,700,000$9,000   $750,000     $2,747,750
Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty$8,850$12,250$14,500$23,500$22,450$26,400$21,900$20,850$47,050$140,200$136,450$26,700$58,200$23,250$1,063,250$1,090,100$2,735,900
Reclaim New York             $100,000 $2,625,000$2,725,000
Institute for Free Speech/Center for Competitive Politics    $1,000$55,000$20,000$27,500$16,000$140,000$166,000$165,000$305,000$284,850$722,600$750,000$2,652,950
Sutherland Institute    $187,500 $235,000$405,000 $440,000$200,000 $225,000$277,000$282,000$101,800$2,353,300
Institute for Justice$10,200$11,200$11,750$7,350$16,600$23,800$32,100$31,150$65,500$234,300$296,750$227,950$575,815$131,290$90,100$534,200$2,300,055
Marijuana Policy Project   $2,000$500$5,250$9,250$35,250$25,250$123,000$65,000$366,000$733,000$651,500$160,000 $2,176,000
George W. Bush Presidential Center         $10,000$10,000   $10,000$2,000,000$2,030,000
Goldwater Institute  $250$1,600$200$600 $1,000 $26,000$81,000$118,000$124,500$531,500$603,500$485,200$1,973,350
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research$6,750$7,500$9,500$17,500$10,500$19,000$80,250$23,750$22,750$43,250$70,750$69,750$104,300$122,000$769,000$578,500$1,955,050
Fund for American Studies$500$750$750$5,750$8,750$11,450$12,300$26,000$36,000$157,100$190,070$245,699$263,100$269,880$323,200$402,160$1,953,459
Media Research Center $1,500$2,250$11,800$2,700$5,000$312,500$13,500$14,000$14,500$60,000$120,500$40,500$149,720$37,700$1,109,500$1,895,670
The Heritage Foundation$30,500$17,200$19,350$29,000$28,250$28,550$51,515$49,300$54,600$34,850$135,600$186,450$92,500$669,540$37,100$362,450$1,826,755
Yankee Institute for Public Policy        $135,000$180,000$180,000$150,000$160,000$180,000$197,500$634,300$1,816,800
Texas Public Policy Foundation $500$250 $2,500$55,500$10,000$10,000$60,000$64,000$32,000$554,850$461,516$119,000$183,000$207,500$1,760,616
Center for Security Policy    $1,000$5,300 $2,700   $126,000$127,500 $720,000$628,500$1,611,000
Cato Institute$15,550$19,450$33,100$27,750$40,500$39,107$45,450$46,283$81,533$64,783$160,500$252,800$119,175$114,120$243,600$283,050$1,586,751
Moving Picture Institute   $2,100$5,100$11,000  $50,000$88,875$302,150$138,000$157,500$167,000$164,000$453,850$1,539,575
American Legislative Exchange Council       $25,000   $6,300$105,800$315,000$422,000$610,000$1,484,100
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research$5,250$21,000$27,000$14,500$29,500$36,500$98,000$82,000$167,000$72,250$117,500$78,000$92,500$63,500$154,615$384,000$1,443,115
Institute on Religion and Democracy   $250,000$420,000$30,000        $350,000$390,000$1,440,000
Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions           $50,000$15,000 $793,000$547,800$1,405,800
Competitive Governance Institute (Formerly Sam Adams Alliance)      $255,000$895,104$176,500       $1,326,604
American Majority      $66,550$49,500$334,530$67,000$176,250$129,000  $252,000$250,000$1,324,830
The James Partnership (Cornwall Alliance)      $258,000$339,500$274,000$175,000$35,000$150,000$77,500   $1,309,000
Students for Liberty       $5,000$10,000$123,500$111,000$139,100$236,500$358,400$99,000$176,500$1,259,000
Independence Institute       $1,000$201,000$251,150$321,216$21,500 $144,381$25,802$135,013$1,101,063
Institute for Energy Research    $65,000$300,000 $350,000 $94,000  $275,000   $1,084,000
Employment Policies Institute Foundation   $1,000      $775,000$150,500$75,500$25,500$25,500$18,000$1,071,000
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education   $200      $16,500$69,500$21,500$47,500$512,000$365,500$1,032,700
Illinois Policy Institute    $5,000$10,000$40,000$114,000$332,206$161,500$116,000$16,000$41,250$16,000$15,000$153,400$1,020,356
The Fairness Center            $230,000$450,000$225,500$101,000$1,006,500
New Civil Liberties Alliance               $1,000,000$1,000,000
National Review Institute $10,000$82,500$61,500$1,000$1,000 $1,000$9,500  $20,101$18,652$76,213$212,750$465,100$959,315
Human Rights Foundation  $1,250$100$100  $3,500 $181,932$195,000$139,500$29,000 $130,000$275,000$955,382
George Mason Environmental Law Clinic          $300,000 $450,000 $200,000 $950,000
Ethics and Public Policy Center     $25,000$155,000$28,000$40,000$120,000$10,000$82,500 $12,000$222,000$225,000$919,500
Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy$5,000$6,000$7,000$14,500  $20,000$89,500$192,000$7,000$6,000$277,000$209,500$11,000$35,000$37,750$917,250
NRA Freedom Action Foundation     $770,000  $100,000       $870,000
Leadership Institute $500$6,000$10,800$113,418$209,066$167,014$4,600$86,600 $54,500$29,000$39,000$27,790$78,700$21,800$848,788
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation$5,000$5,000$2,500$350$1,000$28,600$36,100$18,100$100,600$142,600$88,500$120,500$74,000$69,000$68,000$71,500$831,350
American Media Institute          $20,000$324,500$439,800$20,000  $804,300
Philanthropy Roundtable$10,000$10,000$15,500$21,000$7,600 $13,100$23,100$11,100$13,100$14,100$16,150$26,750$13,500$240,623$355,179$790,802
Freedom Partners Institute             $750,000  $750,000
Middle East Media Research Institute        $11,000   $257,200$101,800 $355,000$725,000
Bill of Rights Institute $10,000$9,250$9,800$10,250$20,100$27,100$18,600$11,100$7,250$7,000$10,000 $30,070$506,500$43,600$720,620
Smithsonian Institution       $50,100 $65,035$119,864$90,000$89,719 $173,233$130,000$717,951
American Transparency           $70,000 $125,000$250,000$270,000$715,000
Turning Point USA             $100,000$25,000$584,900$709,900
Energy & Environment Legal Institute         $335,000$60,000$60,000  $77,000$175,000$707,000
Foreign Policy Initiative        $500,000$200,000      $700,000
Texas Watchdog              $600,000$99,000$699,000
Institute of World Politics$3,000$152,000$216,000$7,000$3,000$6,000$12,000$65,000$10,000    $204,000  $678,000
Foundation for Economic Education   $4,500$2,200$16,200$11,200$36,250 $58,500$58,500$82,600$58,650$110,520$105,000$114,260$658,380
Hoover Institution/Stanford University   $10,000$1,000$500$10,500      $6,350$5,500$607,000$640,850
American Council on Science and Health  $250$12,300 $116,000$208,000$99,017$99,007 $10,000$8,000 $10,000$5,000$32,700$600,274
American Principles Project           $100,000 $200,000$300,000 $600,000
Families Against Mandatory Minimums Foundation     $5,000 $25,000$25,000$30,000$55,000$75,000$150,000$75,000$75,000$75,000$590,000
National Taxpayers Union Foundation $1,000$2,500$2,500$503,250$13,600 $2,600     $11,090$8,300$8,500$553,340
Center for American Greatness               $537,500$537,500
Hudson Institute$5,000$5,000 $10,000$10,000$30,000$10,000$12,000$135,000$10,000$20,000$57,000  $115,000$114,411$533,411
Brown University    $50,000  $75,000$65,000    $105,450$25,022$210,900$531,372
Lincoln Network            $25,000$31,100$130,000$320,100$506,200
Americans for Limited Government Foundation   $1,100$1,000   $500,000       $502,100
Public Interest Legal Foundation/Actright Legal Foundation          $250,000$250,000    $500,000
New Atlantic Initiative   $120,000$103,000$199,000$72,000         $494,000
Center for Union Facts    $26,000$3,000 $1,500  $202,000$204,500   $31,000$468,000
Americans for Tax Reform Foundation $6,100$1,000$500$5,000$32,000$30,050$87,500$40,000$40,000$50,000$40,000$54,500$50,100$10,000$10,300$457,050
Concerned Women for America    $100  $80,000  $375,000     $455,100
International Policy Network $17,820$25,000$27,500$15,000$40,000$46,500$13,500$30,000 $21,000$11,000$165,000$10,000$1,000$30,000$453,320
Harvard University      $25,000$55,000$70,000$300,000      $450,000
American Spectator Foundation  $10,000$7,500 $15,000$15,000$10,000$20,000$15,000$11,000 $20,000 $10,000$310,000$443,500
David Horowitz Freedom Center  $500$1,000$6,500$500 $1,000$51,500  $151,000$6,000$31,290$127,600$66,200$443,090
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii$2,000$23,756$20,250$49,000$100$15,000$21,500$23,444$19,750$23,510$72,166$26,304$48,166$32,760$25,552$21,000$424,257
Independent Institute     $5,000 $1,500 $6,250$7,250$14,000$64,000$179,000$6,000$119,500$402,500
Libre Initiative Institute            $250,000$150,000  $400,000
Stand Together/Public Notice             $200,000$100,000$100,000$400,000
National Center for Public Policy Research   $2,200 $5,000 $12,500$36,000$42,000$216,250 $10,000 $2,000$60,000$385,950
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs              $200,000$175,000$375,000
Empower Texans Foundation       $148,000$222,000       $370,000
Center for Class Action Fairness         $203,293 $100,000$50,000   $353,293
Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty           $50,000 $10,000 $292,500$352,500
Center for Immigration Studies     $350,000          $350,000
Landmark Legal Foundation $300$100$100$100$5,000 $42,750$42,250$50,000$40,000$41,500$45,000$40,000$42,000 $349,100
Galen Institute         $21,000 $126,000$200,000   $347,000
Freedom Foundation     $10,250$20,000$15,000$11,500$20,500$10,000$14,150$14,300$9,200$17,000$203,300$345,200
Santa Fe Institute         $25,000$66,300$60,000$66,000$60,000 $60,000$337,300
Georgia Center for Opportunity              $29,400$299,200$328,600
California Public Policy Center             $20,000$36,500$270,100$326,600
American Friends of the Institute of Economic Affairs $84,150$40,250$40,500$60,000$40,000 $10,000$10,000$10,000$10,000$10,000    $314,900
America’s Future Foundation$1,000$350$240$650 $5,000     $10,000 $10,000$10,000$272,000$309,240
Hanover Institute    $149,250$157,000          $306,250
Parents in Charge Foundation         $150,000$150,000     $300,000
American Policy Foundation               $300,000$300,000
Arizona State University Foundation           $20,500$205,000$30,000 $20,000$275,500
Project on Fair Representation            $250,000 $25,000 $275,000
Capital Research Center$150$5,000$6,000$11,000$4,000$4,500$13,000$12,000   $16,000$13,000 $4,000$184,500$273,150
Club for Growth Foundation               $250,000$250,000
First Freedoms Foundation           $248,958    $248,958
National Right to Life Committee     $246,378          $246,378
Pelican Institute for Public Policy              $121,000$124,800$245,800
Young America’s Foundation$2,500$1,000 $10,100$2,100$31,000$37,100$52,486$47,000$35,500   $7,900$9,400$8,500$244,586
Foundation for Teaching Economics   $6,000$5,000$9,500$7,500$7,000  $10,500$29,000$23,200$46,290$47,600$45,200$236,790
Intercollegiate Studies Institute$2,400$2,500$750$800$2,000$1,650 $1,100$7,500$17,500$13,000$38,000$45,600$32,580$31,500$35,160$232,040
PERC$10,500$5,500$6,250$21,250$1,500 $7,750$21,500$7,500$29,500$56,000$13,000$12,000$7,000$1,000$31,450$231,700
Center for Independent Thought        $40,000 $17,500$15,000$15,000$15,000$50,000$78,000$230,500
Claremont Institute $100$250$350$5,350$5,250 $250$40,400  $76,250  $50,000$51,190$229,390
Clarion Fund        $225,000       $225,000
Platte Institute for Economic Research              $5,000$219,100$224,100
Center for Independent Employees  $41,085 $9,900$49,150   $10,000$25,000$75,000   $10,500$220,635
Randolph Bourne Institute      $75,000$70,000  $50,000$10,000$15,000   $220,000
Citizens in Charge Foundation      $21,500 $125,100    $70,000  $216,600
Council for National Policy    $1,000     $50,000$75,000$60,000$25,000  $211,000
Beacon Center of Tennessee/TCPR       $32,500     $25,290$39,500$112,800$210,090
National Legal & Policy Center  $250$12,200$5,000$4,700$7,200$8,000$7,500$12,750$40,000$14,000$25,000$17,000$21,000$28,000$202,600
Northwestern University         $100,000$100,000     $200,000
Empire Center for Public Policy              $4,900$193,800$198,700
Center for Organizational Research and Education/Center for Consumer Freedom          $57,250$89,112$49,501   $195,863
Encounter for Culture and Education          $15,000  $7,500 $160,500$183,000
Institute for American Values      $75,000$102,762        $177,762
1851 Center for Constitutional Law       $100,000 $50,000     $25,000$175,000
Garden State Initiative              $78,300$93,500$171,800
Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research      $100,000$9,000$8,000     $3,900$49,300$170,200
Religious Freedom Institute               $170,121$170,121
American Action Forum        $150,000$20,000      $170,000
Rockefeller University$10,000$10,000$10,000$10,000$10,000 $10,000$20,000$20,000$10,000$10,000$10,000 $20,000 $20,000$170,000
Judicial Watch    $10,000$1,300$8,100$2,000$7,500$6,000$25,000$37,000$39,000 $18,000$14,600$168,500
Cornell University$1,000$1,000$1,000$1,000$1,000$51,000 $26,000$25,000 $25,000   $5,000$30,000$167,000
James Madison Institute   $500$6,000$500 $1,500$13,742$6,000   $26,290$57,300$48,400$160,232
Kansas Policy Institute/Flint Hills Center for Public Policy       $30,000   $30,599$34,000$19,780$20,100$17,500$151,979
True the Vote          $100,000   $50,000 $150,000
International Freedom Educational Foundation  $99,000       $36,500    $10,000$145,500
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs              $26,500$100,800$127,300
Job Creators Alliance        $125,000       $125,000
Patrick Henry College            $120,000   $120,000
Nevada Policy Research Institute             $75,000$20,600$23,300$118,900
Africa Fighting Malaria  $7,500$10,000$25,000$30,000$21,000$15,000$10,000       $118,500
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice$1,000$2,000$10,000$6,250$5,000$7,000 $17,500   $10,000$12,000$40,290$4,000 $115,040
Center of the American Experiment               $110,121$110,121
Frontiers of Freedom Institute     $7,500   $50,000$50,000     $107,500              $35,000$70,000$105,000
Alaska Policy Forum               $100,300$100,300
The American Friends of the GWPF               $100,000$100,000
Generation Opportunity Institute            $100,000   $100,000
US Term Limits Foundation               $100,000$100,000
People United for Privacy Foundation               $100,000$100,000
Tea Party Patriots Foundation              $100,000 $100,000
National Center for Policy Analysis$5,000$5,250$5,250$15,000$5,650$3,000$8,000$5,000$10,000$12,500$12,500$10,000    $97,150
Caesar Rodney Institute         $50,000    $25,000$22,000$97,000
Drug Policy Alliance  $5,000  $500     $65,000$9,000$6,290 $10,900$96,690
Conservative Partnership Institute               $95,000$95,000
Center for Education Reform $500$500 $1,000$1,000  $90,000       $93,000
Foreign Policy Research Institute  $10,000$20,000$15,000$15,000$27,927         $87,927
Tax Foundation $1,000$3,000$3,000$4,000$5,000 $3,500  $11,000$15,500 $20,000 $20,500$86,500
Washington Policy Center     $200 $1,300$500   $350 $17,000$66,800$86,150
Statistical Assessment Service       $86,000        $86,000
Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute      $15,000$20,000$19,000$19,000 $5,500  $4,500 $83,000
Show-Me Institute            $50,000 $2,000$29,500$81,500
Pacific Legal Foundation $100$250$250$250$1,750$2,750$1,250    $5,250$30,540$13,000$20,650$76,040
Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship         $76,000      $76,000
Mountain States Legal Foundation  $5,000$5,000$5,250$3,600 $3,600$13,600  $7,000$9,500$13,800$9,500 $75,850
Duke University      $25,000$25,000$25,000       $75,000
Institute for Marriage and Public Policy          $75,000     $75,000
Institute for Global Engagement    $75,000           $75,000
Montana Policy Institute       $50,000 $24,000      $74,000
Empower Mississippi Foundation            $25,000 $3,500$45,000$73,500
U.S. English Foundation $100$250$10,250$250$250$10,250$250       $50,250$71,850
Christian Freedom International $3,000$3,000 $35,000 $30,000         $71,000
National Association of Scholars  $500$500$500     $10,000$10,000$10,000 $12,000$23,000$66,500
William F Buckley, Jr Program           $10,000$22,000$17,000$17,000 $66,000
Civitas Institute       $9,915      $15,000$38,800$63,715
Intellectual Takeout            $30,800$31,000  $61,800
Rio Grande Foundation       $7,500      $12,200$41,500$61,200
Future of Freedom Foundation    $1,350$500 $500  $58,309     $60,659
New America Foundation         $60,000      $60,000
Baylor University       $60,000        $60,000
American Commitment Foundation             $50,000$2,500$7,500$60,000
Ludwig Von Mises Institute $2,500$3,000$3,100$5,000$2,500 $2,500  $12,500$6,000 $9,000$5,000$8,000$59,100
Maine Heritage Policy Center       $7,500       $51,500$59,000
Johns Hopkins University      $8,000 $10,000$14,500 $15,000 $10,000  $57,500
Prager University Foundation              $35,540$20,000$55,540
Triskeles Foundation            $25,000  $30,000$55,000
Energy Outreach Colorado               $50,896$50,896
National Organization for Marriage Education Fund         $50,500      $50,500
Next Generation Freedom Fund              $50,000 $50,000
Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History          $50,000     $50,000
Free Enterprise Education Institute    $50,000           $50,000
American Islamic Forum for Democracy             $50,000  $50,000
Foundation for Self Government               $48,000$48,000
Mississippi Center for Public Policy              $22,000$22,900$44,900
Southeastern Legal Foundation      $15,000   $25,000   $2,000 $42,000
Ethan Allen Institute               $41,000$41,000
Brookings Institution      $11,000 $14,450  $15,000    $40,450
Maryland Public Policy Institute              $10,000$29,500$39,500
Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment   $10,000$100$15,000$10,000$4,000        $39,100
Libertas Institute           $35,000  $2,000 $37,000
John Locke Foundation              $1,000$36,000$37,000
E Foundation for Oklahoma              $10,000$26,000$36,000
Spark Freedom         $10,000$10,500   $15,500 $36,000
Hispanic American Center for Economic Research           $35,000    $35,000
Alabama Policy Institute              $9,400$25,000$34,400
Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy              $22,400$11,900$34,300
Accuracy in Media     $100 $100     $10,370$11,000$11,480$33,050
Palmetto Promise Institute              $1,000$30,000$31,000
Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty        $30,000       $30,000
The David Project        $10,000   $10,000 $10,000 $30,000
Ernest Martin Hopkins Institute      $27,653         $27,653
Focus on the Family $500  $25,200           $25,700
Regular Folks United         $25,000      $25,000
South Carolina Policy Council           $25,000    $25,000
World Vision  $25,000             $25,000
National Black Chamber of Commerce         $10,000$15,000     $25,000
Center for Neighborhood Enterprise           $15,000$10,000   $25,000
Wisconsin Policy Research Institute    $25,000           $25,000
Indiana University Foundation       $25,000        $25,000
Global Leadership Foundation (USA)             $25,000  $25,000
Federation for American Immigration Reform $20,100$250$250$250$250 $250      $2,000 $23,350
Free the People Fight the Power Foundation              $10,000$12,200$22,200
John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy      $14,500$5,000      $2,500 $22,000
American Federation for Children Growth Fund/Alliance for School Choice   $850$1,000$1,000 $500   $10,000$8,500   $21,850
Gun Owners Foundation $2,000$2,500$5,000$250$300 $1,100 $7,750    $2,000 $20,900
American University     $100 $100$20,100       $20,300
1st Amendment Partnership               $20,000$20,000
Copenhagen Consensus Center              $20,000 $20,000
NRA Foundation             $20,000  $20,000
American Conservative Union Foundation$1,500$2,250   $6,500$9,500         $19,750
Alliance Defending Freedom $100$250$250$250$250 $250    $5,250 $2,000$10,000$18,600
Cascade Policy Institute          $7,500    $10,000$17,500
Idaho Freedom Foundation              $3,500$13,900$17,400
Young Life   $2,000 $15,000          $17,000
Bluegrass Institute               $17,000$17,000
National Tax Limitation Foundation      $15,200         $15,200
Virginia Institute for Public Policy   $4,000 $5,000 $5,000      $1,000 $15,000
The American Cause     $15,000          $15,000
American Foreign Policy Council   $12,000            $12,000
Foundation for Rational Economics and Education    $250$100$5,200$100       $6,000$11,650
Parents Television Council    $1,000  $10,000        $11,000
Faith and Reason Institute     $5,000 $5,000        $10,000
Jihad Watch          $10,000     $10,000
National Christian Foundation          $10,000     $10,000
Education Action Group Foundation        $10,000       $10,000
Aspen’s Strategic Initiative Institute  $10,000             $10,000
Common Good Institute       $3,000    $6,000   $9,000
American Civil Rights Institute  $1,000$1,000$1,250$100 $100      $5,000 $8,450
CRU/Campus Crusade for Christ$2,000$1,500$1,200$1,500$2,200           $8,400
Jack Kemp Foundation              $1,000$7,000$8,000
Washington Legal Foundation     $5,000 $2,500        $7,500
California Public Policy Foundation$250$1,250$1,250$1,250$1,250$1,250 $1,000        $7,500
Sunshine Review       $7,500        $7,500
Public Interest Institute       $7,500        $7,500
Ohio University       $7,500        $7,500
The Remembrance Project            $6,500   $6,500
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America            $6,000   $6,000
Investigative Project on Terrorism       $5,000        $5,000
James G Martin Center for Academic Renewal              $5,000 $5,000
Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy      $2,500$2,500        $5,000
Project for the New American Century $5,000              $5,000
Freedom Foundation of MN              $3,500 $3,500
Freedom Alliance    $1,000  $1,000      $1,000 $3,000
Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation   $3,000            $3,000
Mont Pelerin Society       $3,000        $3,000
Institute for Policy Innovation $250$250 $1,000$1,000          $2,500
Pro-Life Action League              $2,000 $2,000
Property Rights Foundation of America              $2,000 $2,000
White House Writers Group     $2,000          $2,000
Citizens United Foundation              $2,000 $2,000
Liberty Counsel              $2,000 $2,000
American Stewards of Liberty              $2,000 $2,000
The Spectator              $2,000 $2,000
Jesse Helms Center Foundation              $2,000 $2,000
Youth for Christ International              $1,500 $1,500
Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom/Citizens’ Council on Health Care    $500$250 $250$250       $1,250
Greenwich Land Trust              $1,000 $1,000
Christians United for Israel     $987          $987
Advocates for Self-Government   $600            $600
Steamboat Institute              $600 $600
Liberty Foundation    $250$100 $100        $450
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship              $250 $250
Beacon Hill Institute $250              $250
Free Congress Foundation $250              $250
Carnegie Institution     $100 $100        $200
Atlantic Legal Foundation $100              $100
Grand Total$174,200$543,626$1,099,825$2,059,520$3,294,574$6,659,972$9,662,703$18,779,237$20,542,611$27,152,438$29,910,550$45,191,609$50,145,778$42,264,319$58,738,556$80,896,617$397,116,134

DonorsTrust as Recipient

DonorGrand Total (2001 – 2017)
Donors Capital Fund$57,799,525
Knowledge and Progress Fund$17,320,000
Searle Freedom Trust$9,584,800
DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative$6,500,000
National Philanthropic Trust$5,841,000
Mercer Family Foundation$5,000,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation$3,249,292
Adolph Coors Foundation$3,050,000
The Randolph Foundation$2,147,956
Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation$2,000,000
Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation$1,855,000
E L Craig Foundation$1,850,000
William E. Simon Foundation$1,650,000
John M Olin Foundation$1,181,000
Paul E. Singer Foundation$1,155,605
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation$1,030,124
Schwab Charitable Fund$958,050
Earhart Foundation$765,000
William H. Donner Foundation$761,321
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow$594,000
The Rauner Family Foundation$500,000
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation$500,000
National Christian Charitable Foundation$440,000
Jaquelin Hume Foundation$400,000
Castle Rock Foundation$332,000
John William Pope Foundation$305,000
Barney Family Foundation$300,000
Philanthropy Roundtable$250,000
Buckeye Foundation$250,000
Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty$242,350
Illinois Policy Institute$240,293
Sarah Scaife Foundation$200,000
Floyd Foundation$200,000
Marshall Heritage Foundation$200,000
Holman Foundation$185,313
JM Foundation$135,000
Brady Education Foundation$107,000
Thomas W Smith Foundation$70,000
John Dawson Foundation$55,300
Dodge Jones Foundation$55,000
Encounter for Culture and Education$42,500
Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking$35,000
Lillian S. Wells Foundation$25,000
Ruth & Lovett Peters Foundation$25,000
Bradley Impact Fund$20,000
Armstrong Foundation$20,000
American Legislative Exchange Council$12,500
Neal and Jane Freeman Foundation$10,000
John Templeton Foundation$10,000
Institute for Humane Studies$2,500
Grand Total$129,462,429

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and AFP Foundation

Americans for Prosperity Foundation, founded by oil industry billionaire David Koch, has received the most funding from DT.15“Nancy Pfotenhauer To Head Grassroots Advocacy Group” (Press Release), Americans for Prosperity, December 1, 2003. Archived June 22, 2004. Archive URL:

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) is the 501(c)(3) charitable organization linked to Americans for Prosperity, the 501(c)(4) partner lobbying and advocacy organization.

The AFPF produces a series of “Need to Know” factsheets on sustainable development, carbon taxes and EPA greenhouse gas regulations for its own “activists, policymakers and others.”16Need to Know,” Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Archived July 8, 2015. Archive URL:

On sustainable development, the AFPF attacks any regulations as being damaging to the economy.  The AFPF claims that carbon taxes are “poisonous” to the economy while attacking renewable forms of energy. On the EPA and greenhouse gas rules, the AFPF tells its scholars these are little more than a “shining example of a hyperactive regulatory agency” and characterizes any attempts to regulate fossil fuel emissions as expensive impasses on the American people.

None of the factsheets mention the costs or the impacts of climate change.

In 2008, the AFP started the “No Climate Tax” pledge17Pledge Takers,” No Climate Tax. Archived July 24, 2015. Archive URL: that eventually saw more than 400 US office holders and politicians singing up to “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.” 18Eric Holberg. “Koch: Climate pledge strategy continues to grow,” Investigative Reporting Workshop, July 1, 2013. Archived July 24, 2015. Archive URL:

AFP president Tim Phillips also fronted the “Hot Air Tour” in 2008 touring centers across the US. Phillips said laws to limit greenhouse gas emissions would deliver “higher taxes, cost jobs and less freedom” in “the name of global warming.”19AFP’s Hot Air Tour: Tim Phillips, Intro Remarks” (YouTube Video) uploaded by user Americans for Prosperity, April 21, 2008. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which has received more than $7 million from DT in recent years, has for many years attacked human-caused climate change science and the renewable energy industry.

CFACT’s head of communications is Marc Morano, who runs the climate science denial website ClimateDepot. Media Matters for America named Morano the “climate misinformer of the year” in 2012.20Jill Fitzsimmons and Shauna Theel. “Climate Change Misinformer Of The Year: Marc Morano,” Media Matters for America, December 27, 2012. Archived July 24, 2015. Archive URL:

DT has also been a funder of part-time Smithsonian researcher and climate science denier Dr. Willie Soon, whose other funding over the last decade has come entirely from the fossil fuel industry.

DonorsTrust 990 Forms

Key People 

Board of Directors

 201521DonorsTrust Officers & Directors,” DonorsTrust. Archived July 24, 2015. Archive URL: & Staff – DonorsTrust,” DonorsTrust. Archived June 17, 216. Archive URL:
James PieresonYYVice Chairman. President, William E. Simon Foundation.
Jeffrey C. ZysikY DT Secretary and Treasurer and DT Chief Financial Officer & Chief of Information Technology
Kimberly O. DennisYYChairman. President & CEO, Searle Freedom Trust.
Lawson R. Bader YPresident and CEO, DonorsTrustPast President of Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and past VP at the Mercatus Center at GMU.23DonorsTrust’s New CEO,” DonorsTrust, September 22, 2015. Archived September 23, 2015. Archive URL:
Thomas E. BeachYYFounder & Managing Director, Beach Investment Council
Whitney L. Ball (1963-2015)Y Late DT President and CEO and director of Donors Capital Fund and the State Policy Network.24A Tribute to Whitney Ball,” American Legislator (ALEC Blog), August 18, 2015. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL:
William J. HumeYYChairman of the Board, Basic American, Inc.


 201525DonorsTrust Officers & Directors,” DonorsTrust. Archived July 24, 2015. Archive URL: & Staff – DonorsTrust,” DonorsTrust. Archived June 17, 216. Archive URL:
Christopher D. RennerYYGrants & Accounting Manager
Jeffrey C. Zysik YChief Financial Officer & Chief of Information Technology
Jeffrey C. Zysik, SecretaryY Treasurer, Chief Financial Officer & Chief of Information Technology
Lauren V. SkiverYYOutreach Manager (Skiver joined DT from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation)27Directors & Staff,” DonorsTrust. Archived February 19, 2015. Archive URL: 28Brad Johnson. “Fun fact: The DonorsTrust staffer who gave @Smithsonian the Soon $$ came from the Charles Koch foundation #soongate.” February 21, 2015, 7:06 p.m. tweet.
Lawson R. Bader YPresident and CEO, DonorsTrust
Peter A. LipsettYYDirector of Growth Strategies
Thomas Wischer YOffice Manager & Grants Associate
Whitney L. Ball (1963-2015)Y Late DT President and CEO and director of Donors Capital Fund and the State Policy Network.29A Tribute to Whitney Ball,” American Legislator (ALEC Blog), August 18, 2015. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL:

DonorsTrust Contact & Location

As of June 2016, DonorsTrust listed the following contact information on its website:30Contact Us – DonorsTrust,” DonorsTrust. Archived June 18, 2016. Archive URL:

1800 Diagonal Street
Suite 280
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Phone:(703) 535-3563
Fax: (703) 535-3564


November 19, 2021

Exposed by CMD released a report detailing how the “Dark Money ATM” of DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund provided more than $137 million in funding to right-wing groups in 2020.31David Armiak. “‘Dark Money ATM’ Pumped Over $137 Million into Right-Wing Groups in 2020,” Exposed by CMD, November 19, 2021. Archived December 17, 2021. Archive URL:

“The preferred donor conduits of the Koch political network DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund distributed $188.3 million in grants in 2020, $137 million of which was sent to litigation centers, advocacy groups, media outlets, extremists, gun rights groups, climate deniers and other tax-exempt organizations that make up America’s right-wing infrastructure,” the report noted.

The report noted that this $137 million grants figure represented a 52% increase, or $47 million more than was given in 2019.

The CMD report broke down funding as follows:

  • $51 million to right-wing policy and advocacy including State Policy Network members
  • $15 million to right-wing media groups
  • $5 million to “extremist and gun rights nonprofits”
  • $4 million to Youth and Women Influence Efforts
  • $3 Million to climate denial groups including over $500,000 to the Heartland Institute

December 1, 2017

DonorsTrust started a targeted advertising campaign for donations. For example, on an episode of The Remnant podcast hosted by the National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, Goldberg pauses his program to voice an ad for DonorsTrust.32The Remnant Episode 10: Afraid of Trade? December 1, 2017. Archived .mp3 on file at DeSmog.

The ad points to a dedicated website landing page requesting users sign up for an “Investing in Liberty” guide.33Welcome Remnant podcast listeners! Access your free Investing in Liberty guide now ” DonorsTrust. Archived December 11, 2017. URL:


“It’s no secret that the best policy ideas are not coming from politicians. Instead they’re coming from think tanks, public interest law centers, and other principled individuals and groups from around the country and the best ones are those that do not really on government money to operate for reasons that should be obvious.

“If you want to help move the ideas of liberty forward, invest your charitable giving in those doing the real work of conservative causes. The simplest way to do that is through DonorsTrust.

“DonorsTrust is a community foundation for the liberty movement. With a donor-advised fund at DonorsTrust, you’ll simplify your giving and receive excellent tax benefits, all in a way that gives you an additional layer of privacy.

“All donor-advised funds offer the same basic services. But DonorsTrust is the only donor-advised fund that shares your commitment to conservative principles. This is assuming everyone listening is conservative or dedicated to liberty. 

“If you’re a progressive fellow traveler listing to this, you’re invited to give to these groups too. You know, some of these groups, there’s lots of progressives out there much more interested in libertarian stuff these days than they once were. 

“Regardless, go to for your free investing in liberty guide that gives practical advice on how to identify principle-driven charities that deserve your support. 

As we near the end of 2017, DonorsTrust is the partner you need. The stock market is booming, the tax code is changing. DonorsTrust experts can help you navigate all of that and equip you to give in a way that best benefits you, your family, and the principles you hold dear.”

Articles About DonorsTrust

Exclusive: Major Climate Denial Funders Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund Handled $479 Million Of Dark MoneyDeSmogBlog

More than $470 million of cash flowing into a key funding arm of the climate science denial movement in the United States is untraceable, a DeSmog investigation has found.

Secretive donors gave US climate denial groups $125m over three years – The Guardian

The secretive funders behind America’s conservative movement directed around $125m (£82m) over three years to groups spreading disinformation about climate science and committed to wrecking Barack Obama’s climate change plan, according to an analysis of tax records.

Exclusive: Billionaires secretly fund attacks on climate science – The Independent

A secretive funding organization in the United States that guarantees anonymity for its billionaire donors has emerged as a major operator in the climate “counter movement” to undermine the science of global warming, The Independent has learnt.

Charities Funnel Millions to Climate Change Denial – LiveScience

A British newspaper claims to have discovered the convoluted way oil billionaires in the United States can funnel huge amounts of cash toward climate change-denial campaigns, while reaping tremendous tax advantages in the process.

Koch Family Uses Fund To Channel Millions To Anti-Climate Science Groups: Report – International Business Times

Millions of dollars are being secretly funneled to the climate change “counter movement” by groups connected to the Koch family, UK newspaper the Independent reported on Friday.

Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement – Mother Jones

You haven’t heard of DonorsTrust, but it’s bankrolled the right’s fights against unions, public schools, climate scientists, and more.

Other Resources


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