No phrase higher describes America’s liberal plutocrats than “cosmopolitan,” from κοσμοπολίτης (kosmopolites), actually “universal citizen.” We have the historical Greeks to thank for the idea in addition to the phrase. The first cosmopolitan was Diogenes, the first of the Cynics (ascetics who forged away their property and possessions to pursue a extra virtuous life of the thoughts, in accord with nature). Diogenes might have hailed from the metropolis of Sinope, however towards the patchwork of city-states that peppered Greece he famously declared, “I am a citizen of the world.”
A better affinity for humankind than particular person people is about the solely factor our personal “citizens of the world” have in widespread with the Cynics, nonetheless. The lives of America’s transnational liberal billionaires are about as removed from ascetic as one can get. The climate-conscious fly personal jets and purchase island mansions, well-known socialists personal a number of homes, and the greatest critics of earnings inequality leverage capital positive aspects losses to pay little-to-no earnings tax.
America has all the time had its patricians, however as the phrase suggests, they noticed themselves as patriotic “fathers” of their nation, and their wealth and status had been tied up of their nation’s well-being. George Washington commanded armies. Thomas Jefferson was a statesman and diplomat. Robert Morris, most likely America’s first millionaire, personally bankrolled the American Revolution.
Contrast that with the spacefaring Jeff Bezos, land-grabbing Bill Gates, or Big Brother–impressed tech billionaires Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg. The mixed forces of world commerce, jet journey, and militant secularism make right this moment’s elites extra akin to plane carriers than people—travelling micro-states capable of mission energy and affect wherever in the world with wealth equal to a small nation’s GDP. Is it any surprise that one strains to search out real, unabashed patriots of their ranks?
Nowhere is that clearer than of their “philanthropy,” humanitarian giving that’s extra political than charitable and completely disconnected from its roots in Christianity’s love for one’s fellow man.
It isn’t solely the Ford Foundation or George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, both. Across the nation, a number of group foundations—teams that are supposed to assist their native communities—function funnels for liberal billionaires to fund nationwide causes, comparable to environmental activists, get-out-the-vote teams, litigation nonprofits, labor union fronts, and mass immigration advocacy.
We’ve analyzed grants flowing from a couple of dozen group foundations to uncover $2.3 billion flowing to 110 extremely politically energetic nonprofits on the left since 2010. These teams vary from prime liberal assume tanks, comparable to the Center for American Progress, to “animal rights” radicals demanding world inhabitants management. Far from merely supporting native philanthropy, America’s group foundations are some of the greatest conduits for activist teams we’ve found—but they obtain nearly no scrutiny from the press.
That isn’t to say that these group foundations don’t fund bona fide charities, from native philharmonic orchestras to campaigns towards youngster starvation and the Salvation Army. Nor does it recommend that there’s one thing inherently fallacious with group foundations as a philanthropic automobile.
What it does reveal is how totally our nation’s beneficiant nonprofit sector has been hijacked by the left. Charity has been weaponized. It’s much less about doing what the authorities can not (and mustn’t) do and extra of a tax-free political cudgel aimed toward altering insurance policies and even the end result of elections.
What Are Community Foundations For?
According to the Council on Foundations, there are over 800 group foundations nationwide. They have a easy premise: serve the native public, be it in a selected metropolis (St. Louis), geographic area (Middle Tennessee), or a whole state (Oregon). They’re meant to fill a void between personal foundations belonging to a rich particular person or household comparable to the Ford Foundation and 501(c)(3) public charities supported by a number of donors, inviting donations from native philanthropists to fund an array of charitable causes.
Structurally, group foundations are 501(c)(3) public charities and nearly universally centered on donor-advised funds (DAFs), a form of charitable funding account meant to encourage small-dollar donors to offer early and accumulate funds in an area philanthropy, earlier than selecting out the charities they finally want to help. My colleague Michael Hartmann and I’ve written extensively about the benefits of and proposed reforms to DAFs.
The Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first group basis, fashioned in 1914 by the banker Frederick Harris Goff. Goff, whose Cleveland Trust Company (now KeyFinancial institution) serviced fellow Clevelander John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, was an innovator in philanthropy, envisioning a form of automobile that will prioritize the public good over self-interest. That led the Cleveland Foundation to launch a campaign towards industrialized city neglect, poverty, and corruption plaguing the metropolis.
But it additionally had the unlucky impact of involving it in the metropolis’s 1967 mayoral race. Philanthropy professional William Schambra has recorded how the Cleveland Foundation—with assist from the Ford Foundation—quietly funded a personal media advisor and voter registration drives to spice up election turnout for Democratic candidate Carl Stokes, who grew to become the first black mayor of a serious metropolis by a scant 1,851 votes.
In civic participation there’s a wonderful line between partisan politics and philanthropy, and the Cleveland and Ford Foundations crossed it—so concluded Democratic members of the highly effective U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. Big Philanthropy’s position in tilting an election instantly led to potent nonprofit provisions in the 1969 Tax Reform Act handed by Democratic majorities in Congress and signed into legislation by President Richard Nixon. This legislation gave us the trendy definition of a “private foundation” and strict limits on its electoral actions and lobbying.
Although group foundations escaped Congress’s wrath, the Cleveland affair lays naked their decades-long immersion in American politics, a pattern that continues right this moment. It leads this author to ask: What are group foundations for? If the reply entails serving to politicians of both get together get elected, it’s time for Congress to return to the drafting board.
Charting the Grants
Which politically energetic organizations are the greatest beneficiaries of group basis cash? Our evaluation of grants from almost 170 group foundations between 2010 and 2019 (2018 in the case of teams with lacking Form 990 filings) traced $2.3 billion to 110 left-wing teams and their associates.
To sift via tens of 1000’s of grants and keep away from cherry-picking recipients, we recognized nonprofits which can be outstanding in a spread of political causes—comparable to the Center for American Progress, Planned Parenthood, and Southern Poverty Law Center—or are particularly notable for their radicalism (e.g., the communist Alliance for Global Justice) and affect (e.g. the libertarian-turned-lefty Niskanen Center), in addition to any native or lobbying associates. While not scientific, it offers a way of simply how a lot the institutional left relies upon upon funds flowing via group foundations.
Top recipients embrace Planned Parenthood ($111 million), Earthjustice ($97 million), and the Tides Center ($93 million). For extra particulars and an inventory of the prime 30, together with a quick description of their work, please see an appendix at the finish of this report.
It’s necessary to notice that these grants finally originated with (principally) nameless donors, not the group foundations themselves, which function conduits for DAF account holders. The largest group basis givers on this listing come from a handful of locales, principally in California—Los Angeles, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and Marin County—in addition to Chicago, Boston, Kansas City, Atlanta, and Memphis, to call a couple of.
By far the greatest is the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), an $8.5 billion behemoth and favourite left-wing automobile I’ve documented in these pages. Grants from SVCF and its runner-up, the little-known Foundation for the Carolinas (FFTC), account for a formidable 75 p.c of the giving in our listing, or greater than $1.75 billion over 9 years.
These are organizations that just about nobody has heard of, but they’re pillars of the skilled left and the most abhorrent causes in America. FFTC specifically is the most well-liked pass-through of Fred Stanback, a mega-donor characterised by Knoxville News in 2018 as a “known proponent of anti-humanist environmentalism” who believes that “protecting the environment hinges on population control,” a fusion of radical environmentalism and what we may name the abortion-industrial complicated.
SVCF serves at the pleasure of a handful of Big Tech billionaires, together with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, former eBay president Jeff Skoll, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, WhatsApp’s Brian Acton, and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.
There’s a case to be made that SVCF is a personal pass-through automobile for politically energetic mega-donors, all of whom are donors to the Democratic Party and left-wing causes. SVCF’s 2019 Form 990 report notes that 70 p.c of its contributions that 12 months got here from simply 11 donors. That determine was worse in 2018, when three quarters of SVCF’s $2 billion in contributions got here from solely 10 donors. Zuckerberg was and sure nonetheless is SVCF’s largest single donor, contributing $1.75 billion in Facebook inventory in 2010, adopted by one other $200 million in shares in November 2018.
That’s after SVCF’s #MeToo scandal in April, when allegations of sexual and emotional abuse by SVCF workers prompted an investigation resulting in a flurry of resignations amongst the prime brass, together with longtime CEO Emmett Carson. One black staffer was disturbingly instructed to “Work, slave, work” by the group’s chief fundraiser, Mari Ellen Loijens, whose reported chronicle of misdeeds contains trying to kiss one other feminine staffer.
Former workers’ scathing evaluations on Glassdoor.com painted SVCF’s management as avaricious and “incredibly misguided,” with “no mission outside of being the largest community foundation in the world. . . . SVCF ultimately serves little purpose beyond helping the 1% evade taxes by putting money into charitable brokerage accounts.”
The California Bay Area could also be blessed with a bumper crop of the prosperous, however the stunning overreliance of the nation’s largest group basis on a sprinkling of top-dollar donors undermines its picture as a publicly supported nonprofit—and even as one targeted on native affairs. As philanthropy critic Alan Cantor famous shortly after the scandal, Carson and associates “found the notion of geographical community too limiting,” selecting to see SVCF as extra of a world citizen. The “geographic location, interests, and identity” of SVCF’s group “cannot be placed on any one map,” Carson wrote in 2013. A 12 months after his resignation, the group’s Form 990 report revealed that SVCF’s belongings plunged by an unimaginable $4.6 billion.
What Is Philanthropy For?
All this not solely calls consideration to a serious river of cash flowing to political teams, however asks a burning query: Who does philanthropy serve? Until we reply that query—one which our forebears understood—group foundations, personal foundations, and 501(c) teams are immaterial.
It’s revealing that the United States is one of a only a few nations to supply tax exemption and different advantages to nonprofits. The observe dates again to the Revenue Act of 1909, however the spirit behind it’s a lot older than the republic. Colonial Americans—in contrast to the British, French, and Spanish—selected to arrange quite a few residents’ committees to deal with issues past the scope of both people or the authorities—a primary in world historical past. These had been the first firms organized for the public good fairly than to maintain a enterprise enterprise, and their roots attain deep into English widespread legislation and the Protestant Reformation, which put the accountability for godliness in the group upon every particular person Christian, not ecclesiastical or secular authorities.
As households had been anticipated to review and emulate the Bible, so had been they anticipated to “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling” in the public sphere—that’s, do works match for holiness in an unholy world that replicate their redemption in Jesus Christ. Gratitude for what God has achieved for the particular person believer, not the menace of slipping again into damnation, drove the Puritan colonists in New England. Is it any surprise that in early America the biggest outpouring of committees created for the public profit was centered there?
φιλανθρώπως (philanthropos) is the love of mankind rooted in the divine picture. Modern philanthropy has mistaken itself with the love of cash. Once we’ve began down that highway, all the good intentions in the world gained’t assist us escape it.
Hayden Ludwig is a senior investigative researcher for the Capital Research Center. Victoria Ydens contributed to this report.
Appendix: The Recipients
- Planned Parenthood, together with associates: $111 million. America’s largest abortion supplier and a pillar of the skilled left.
- Earthjustice: $97 million. Sierra Club spin-off that litigates towards oil, fuel, and coal use and different environmental points.
- Tides Center: $93 million. Tides Foundation arm accountable for incubating new activist teams.
- Food & Water Watch: $85 million. Anti-fossil gasoline activist group closely energetic on the state stage.
- Sierra Club Foundation: $73 million. 501(c)(3) arm of the nation’s oldest environmental group, which just lately disowned founder John Muir as irredeemably racist.
- Tides Foundation: $62 million. Key pass-through funder that focuses on utilizing DAFs to bundle donations from liberal donors to politically energetic nonprofits.
- Humane Society of the United States, together with associates: $57 million. Militant vegetarians lobbying for animal rights and animal-free clothes.
- Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: $54 million. Rockefeller Foundation affiliate that gives consulting companies to different left-leaning nonprofits associated to “social justice,” environmentalism, and related causes.
- American Civil Liberties Union, together with associates: $49 million. Historic civil liberties litigation group that’s grow to be a hub for left-wing activism and electioneering on behalf of Democrats.
- New Venture Fund: $37 million. Flagship of a $731 million “dark money” community run by Arabella Advisors in Washington, D.C., specializing in pass-through donations to activist teams and popping up new lobbying campaigns.
- Conservation International Foundation: $34 million. Left-leaning local weather group that helps worldwide greenhouse fuel reductions.
- US: $32 million. Mass immigration advocacy group closely funded by Mark Zuckerberg.
- Friends of the Earth: $27 million. Dutch environmentalist group related to 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 additionally pushes for continuation of Obama’s insurance policies.
- Human Rights Watch: $17 million. Left-leaning civil liberties group primarily targeted on creating nations, criticized for connections to Saudi Arabia and lack of transparency in its funding (e.g., receiving robust help from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations).
- National Audubon Society: $16 million. nineteenth century conservation nonprofit that has expanded into local weather change advocacy.
- Clinton Foundation: $15 million. Enough stated.
- Center for Biological Diversity: $14 million. Radical group that has supported voluntary male sterilization to curb world inhabitants development, fought towards Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court affirmation, and tried to dam President Trump’s border wall.
- Environmental Defense Fund: $13 million. “Green” advocacy and litigation group with so much of “green” ($210 million in 2018).
- Org, together with associates: $12 million. Hard-line environmentalist group based by Bill McKibben, notably a goal of Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans (2020) for promoting out to Big Oil.
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center: $12 million. Mass immigration group primarily based in San Francisco.
- Greenpeace Fund: $9.5 million. 501(c)(3) arm of one of the nation’s most excessive environmental teams, notorious for opposing trendy 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 goals to overturn pro-life legal guidelines in conservative states.
- NEO Philanthropy: $6.6 million. Pass-through for liberal donors greatest recognized for operating the Funders Committee for Civic Participation, an affinity group for leftist donors to strategize over voter mobilization and 2020 Census turnout so as to favor Democrats.
- Vera Institute of Justice: $6.4 million. Originally created to assist poor New Yorkers get bail bonds, now a broad advocacy entrance for “racial justice,” anti-incarceration, and mass immigration insurance policies.
- Center for American Progress: $6.4 million. The left’s Heritage Foundation—a Democratic Party-aligned assume tank based by Clinton crony John Podesta and funded by a who’s who of liberal funders to formulate coverage on just about each situation.
- New America: $6 million. Think tank epitomizing the technocratic left based by the late Ted Halstead with shut management ties to the Obama administration.
- Anti-Defamation League: $6 million. Originally created in 1913 to fight anti-Semitism, however has since morphed right into a normal leftist strain group, even eradicating the phrases “anti-Semitism” from its mission assertion lately.
- 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 single girls and minorities and assist Democratic turnout, in addition to a key supporter of vote-by-mail in the 2020 election (and past).
- American Immigration Council: $5 million. Arm of the American Immigration Lawyers Association accountable for lobbying; commonly cites the hate-spewing Southern Poverty Law Center in its criticism of right-leaning immigration teams