This section of DiscoverTheNetworks examines the immensely wealthy charitable foundations that provide financial backing for leftist groups and causes. These foundations -- sometimes called endowments or charitable trusts -- are nongovernmental, nonprofit entities whose assets are provided by donors and managed by their (the foundations') own officials, who earmark portions of their assets each year for what they consider to be socially useful purposes. Most of these foundations can be classified under the following categories:
- Community Foundations, which build their endowments through contributions from many donors within a given geographic region, and typically focus on local needs
- Corporate Foundations, which are private foundations established by for-profit corporations but legally separate from the parent corporations
- Family Foundations, in which the original donor or the donor's family plays a significant role in governing the foundation
- Independent Foundations, which are private foundations, usually endowed by one source such as an individual's bequest
- Operating Foundations, which are private foundations that use most of their income to provide charitable services or programs of their own, rather than making grants to outside organizations
- Public Foundations, which are public charities that operate significant grantmaking programs
The DiscoverTheNetworks database currently identifies and profiles more than 125 major foundations whose political and philanthropic orientations are generally leftist, and whose combined assets exceed $100 billion. Some of the foundations described in this section are so large that they have single-handedly shaped entire cultural and political movements. (See, for example, the Ford Foundation's role in underwriting The Open Borders Lobby.
Several of the massive, tax-exempt entities profiled in this section -- most notably the Tides Center, the Liberty Hill Foundation, and the Proteus Fund -- are pass-through operations designed to mask the relationship between donor and gift. That is, they take money from donors who specify the precise groups and causes for which they want it earmarked, and in turn funnel that money to those recipients, allowing the donors avoid being publicly associated with the groups being funded. The funds transacted in this manner are called donor-advised funds. (The JEHT Foundation, which closed its doors permanently in 2009, was yet another pass-through.)
As of 2003, America's top left-leaning foundations held $51 billion more in assets than their conservative counterparts (those that consistently funded groups promoting individual rights, a pro-market stance, and limited government). Moreover, the leftist foundations made grants whose combined value was 26 times greater than all the grants awarded by their conservative counterparts. With many billions of dollars at their disposal, the foundations profiled in this section of DiscoverTheNetworks are positioned to permanently shift America's political dialogue to the left through their grant-making power. Leftist activists commonly hold key positions on the staffs and governing boards of these foundations, and often they serve on multiple boards.
Many recipients of foundation money today are the immensely influential activist organizations popularly known as Section 527 Committees. Dedicated to promoting political candidates and agendas, 527s are, by definition, private, nonprofit groups that are less regulated and require less disclosure than other types of nonprofit groups engaged in electioneering. They need not register with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as “political organizations.” Consequently, they do not have to observe the FEC's strict limits on political contributions. The 527s may collect as much “soft money” as they like from individuals and corporations.
The RESOURCES column located on the right side of this page contains links to articles, essays, books, and videos that explore such topics as:
- The agendas and funding priorities of George Soros's foundation network, whose flagship is the Open Society Institute;
- How financial contributions by foundations, corporations, and labor unions provide the economic lifeblood of the left;
- How the federal government uses taxpayer dollars to fund many leftwing organizations and foundations;
- Requirements that compel foundations to meet race-and-gender quotas not only in the composition of their own respective boards and staffs, but also in the boards and staffs of the organizations to which they make grants; and
- How the Peace & Security Funders group -- a coalition of charitable foundations -- has undermined America's efforts in the War on Terror.