Philanthropy Roundtable

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The Philanthropy Roundtable was established with funding from the Institute for Educational Affairs in the 1970s to help facilitate and coordinate conservative grant-making and foundations. The organization describes itself as "America’s leading network of charitable donors working to strengthen our free society, uphold donor intent, and protect the freedom to give." [1] Philanthropy Roundtable is a registered 501(c)3 and is currently an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN).

In 1999, Philanthropy Roundtable spun off the Koch-funded DonorsTrust (DT) and Donors Capital Fund (DCF), two "donor-advised funds" that create separate accounts for individual donors, who then recommend disbursements from the accounts to different non-profits. The identity of the original mystery donors is therefore cloaked because the funds are then distributed in the name of DT or DCF, contributing another step to what has been called a "murky money maze."[2] Whitney L. Ball, Philanthropy Roundtable's former executive director,[3] co-founded the two Donors funds and is president and CEO of DT[4] and a director of DCF.[5]

Ties to the Bradley Foundation

The Bradley Foundation has been a strong supporter of the Philanthropy Roundtable. Between 1991 and 2015, Bradley documents on a 2016 Philanthropy Roundtable Grant History form that it has given the organization $4,837,500.[6]

A background document from the Bradley Files provides insight into the history of the Philanthropy Roundtable and its activities,

"The Roundtable began in the late 1970s under the auspices of the Institute for Educational affairs as an informal network of grant makers focused on promoting private, voluntary approaches to improve the lives of individual citizens in their respective communities, and, thereby, in the nation as a whole. Over time the Roundtable evolved into a nationwide network of donors supporting annually conferences and publications which became a free-standing organization with an independent board and staff. In this organizational arrangement the Roundtable aims to assist philanthropists in learning about effective giving strategies."
"The Roundtable's total expenses in 2015 were $8,415,471. Of that amount 87% is allocated for program expenses, 8% for administration and 5% for fundraising. The Philanthropy Roundtable ended 2015 with 635 contributing members, with 68 of these individuals and organizations contributing $25,000 or more. A total of 28 donors made a contribution of at least $100,000 in 2015. The list of prominent donors include amongst others the Anschutz, Arnold, Gates, Kauffman, Maclellan, Marcus, Milbank, Murdock, Randolph, Seattle, Spencer, and Templeton Foundations."[7]
Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at ExposedbyCMD.org.

Ties to the Koch Brothers

In October 2011, the Roundtable awarded Charles G. Koch the "William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership." The award gives $250,000 to a charity of the prize recipient's choice and is intended to "honor living philanthropists who have shown exemplary leadership through their own charitable giving, either directly or through foundations they have created."[8] Koch chose to direct the $250,000 prize to the Institute for Humane Studies.[9] In its explanation for why Koch was the recipient, the Roundtable stated, "For more than 40 years, he has been at the forefront of strategic investment in ideas, think tanks, and academic research."[8] Koch has maintained a long-standing financial relationship with the organization.

Koch Family Foundations gave an aggregate of $363,445 to the Philanthropy Roundtable between 1993 and 2012.[10] The Philanthropy Roundtable received $319,245 in donations from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation between 1993 and 2012; and $44,200 from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation between 2002 and 2003.[11]

Koch has a long history of involvement at the Roundtable's annual meetings. He was a presenter at the 2011 annual Philanthropy Roundtable conference.[12] A 1997 report by the National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy documented the participation of the Koch Brothers in the 1995 conference:

"In a presentation at the Philanthropy Roundtable's 1995 annual conference, Richard Fink, president of the Charles G. Koch and Claude R. Lambe charitable foundations, made good use of market metaphors to outline how foundations can exert the greatest impact on public policy. Adapting laissez-faire economist Friedrich Hayek's model of the production process to social change grant-making, Fink argued that the translation of ideas into action requires the development of intellectual raw materials, their conversion into specific policy products, and the marketing and distribution of these products to citizen-consumers.
"Grantmakers, Fink argued, would do well to invest in change along the entire production continuum, funding scholars and university programs where the intellectual framework for social transformation is developed, think tanks where scholarly ideas get translated into specific policy proposals, and implementation groups to bring these proposals into the political marketplace and eventually to consumers."[13]

The Koch brothers also fund DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, which the Philanthropy Roundtable spun off in 1999. The obscure Knowledge and Progress Fund, controlled by Charles G. Koch, with Richard Fink as president, has given only to Donors since 2005.[14][15] It gave $1.25 million to Donors in 2007, $1.25 million in 2008, and then $2 million in 2010, according to PBS Frontline.[16]

Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

News and Controversies

Lack of Transparency

The Roundtable is outspoken in its opposition to transparency. In 2013, Roundtable president Adam Meyerson wrote that the "right to confidentiality in charitable giving is grounded in our constitutional freedom of association, and it is one of the most important elements of philanthropic freedom." Responding to critics of the fund's lack of transparency, he claimed that "a sizable minority [of donors] want their philanthropy to be anonymous and will not give unless they can keep their donations confidential," and concluded with the statement, "So-called “dark money” illuminates our free society."[17]

According to Media Matters, "The Philanthropy Foundation fights what it considers the increasingly growing public view that foundations should be accountable to the public. The group is opposed to more efforts at transparency, believing that "foundations are private organizations that should be free to make their own governance and grantmaking decisions so long as they operate with integrity and use their assets for genuinely charitable purposes."" [18]

Education Reform a Priority

In an interview with the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the President of the Philanthropy Roundatble, Adam Meyerson, indicated that education 'reform' was one of the key priorities for the organisation during George W. Bush's second term, "President Bush has the potential to be the most important president in the history of American education -- the president who finally solves our crisis in the education of low-income children. But he cannot achieve this breakthrough simply through the federal No Child Left Behind law, the focus of his first term. Reform of education is going to come primarily from the ground up -- from state and local government, and from philanthropists and social entrepreneurs," he said.[3]

Links to Neoconservatives

According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the Roundtable has well-established links to prominent neoconservatives:

"Philanthropy Roundtable directors have included Leslie Lenkwosky and John Waters, both of whom served in the George W. Bush administration, as well as Kim Dennis, now executive director of the Searle Freedom Trust. Adam Meyerson, a former vice president of the Heritage Foundation, has been the director since 2001. Meyerson is co-editor of the Wall Street Journal on Management, former editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal, former managing editor of the American Spectator, and the spouse of Nina Shea, the director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Hudson Institute and a long-standing neoconservative activist." [19]

Funding

2014

In 2014, Philanthropy Roundtable received the following donations:

2013

In 2013, Philanthropy Roundtable received $25,000 in membership fees and/or other funding from the John William Pope Foundation, a right-wing foundation that has also funded the State Policy Network (SPN).[20] The Roundtable also received $1,000 in membership fees and/or grants from the Tepper Family Foundation in 2013[20] (recommended annual contribution levels for Roundtable members are $25,000, $10,000, $5,000, $1,000, or $500 as of July 2014).[21]

Additional Funds Received:

2012

In 2012, Philanthropy Roundtable received membership fees and/or other funding from the following right-wing foundations with ties (as funders or otherwise) to SPN:

The Philanthropy Roundtable also received membership fees and/or grants from at least the following other foundations in 2012:[20]

The Philanthropy Roundtable contributed to the following organizations in 2012:[20]

* These two organizations were chosen to receive "up to a $250,000 prize payable to the charity or charities of of the prize recipient's choice"[22] by the 2012 recipient of the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. The William E. Simon Foundation asked the Philanthropy Roundtable to the prize.[23]

2011

In 2011, Philanthropy Roundtable received membership fees and/or other funding from the following right-wing organizations with ties to SPN:[20]

Other major right-wing organizations that contributed membership fees and/or grants to the Philanthropy Roundtable in 2011 include:[20]

2010

In 2010, Philanthropy Roundtable received membership fees and/or other funding from the following right-wing organizations with ties to SPN:[20]

Other major right-wing organizations that contributed membership fees and/or grants to the Philanthropy Roundtable in 2010 include:[20]

Other Funding

Between 1993 and 2015, the Roundtable received membership fees and/or grants from at least the following organizations:[20]

Core Financials

2015[25]:

  • Total Revenue: $9,403.708
  • Total Expenses: $8,424,670
  • Net Assets: $11,098,617

2014[26]:

  • Total Revenue: $7,742,082
  • Total Expenses: $7,134,888
  • Net Assets: $10,937,530

2013[27]:

  • Total Revenue: $5,742,772
  • Total Expenses: $6,419,839
  • Net Assets: $10,527,485

Personnel

Staff

As of July 2017:[28]

Former Staff

Board of Directors

As of July 2017:[29]

Former Board of Directors

Contact Information

EIN: 13-2943020

Philanthropy Roundtable
1120 20th Street NW
Suite 550 South
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202) 822-8333
Fax:(202) 822-8325
Email: main@philanthropyroundtable.org
Website: http://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/philanthropyrnd
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Philanthropy-Roundtable/109354359083923

References

  1. The Philanthropy Roundtable, "About Us", "Philanthropy website", accessed June 10, 2013.
  2. John Mashey, Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax 2, DeSmog Blog report, updated October 23, 2012, p. 19.
  3. Philanthropy Roundtable, Whitney Ball: The Future of Donor-Advised Funds, interview from Philanthropy magazine, September/October 2005.
  4. DonorsTrust, Directors & Staff, organizational website, accessed July 2014.
  5. Donors Capital Fund, Directors & Officers, organizational website, accessed July 2014.
  6. Bradley Foundation, [Philanthropy Roundtable Grant History], Bradley Files, 2016.
  7. Bradley Foundation, [Philanthropy Roundtable Grant Proposal Record], Bradley Files, June 14, 2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Philanthropy Roundtable, The Philanthropy Roundtable announces Charles G. Koch as the 2011 recipient of the William E. Simon Prize, organizational website, accessed October 20, 2011.
  9. Philanthropy Roundtable, 2011 IRS Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, April 27, 2012.
  10. American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, Philanthropy Roundtable Transactions, ConservativeTransparency.org, accessed July 7, 2014.
  11. American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, Philanthropy Roundtable: Donors, ConservativeTransparency.org, accessed July 2014.
  12. Philanthropy Roundtable, 2011 Annual Meeting Agenda, organizational website, accessed October 20, 2011.
  13. National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Moving a Public Policy Agenda: the Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations, organizational report, July 1997, quoted here.
  14. John Mashey, Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax 2, DeSmog Blog report, updated October 23, 2012, p. 71.
  15. Connor Gibson, Greenpeace, Meet the Network Hiding the Koch Money: "Donors Trust" and "Donors Capital Fund", PRWatch.org, originally published by Greenpeace, October 29, 2012.
  16. Robert Brulle: Inside the Climate Change “Countermovement”, PBS Frontline, October 23, 2012.
  17. Adam Meyerson, "President's Note: Misconceptions about 'Dark Money'," Philanthropy, Fall 2013. Archived on Philanthropy Roundtable's website, accesssed July 8, 2014.
  18. Media Matters, Media Philanthropy Roundtable, Conservative Transparency Project, organization profile, May 3, 2012. Archived by Internet Wayback Machine, accessed July 8, 2014.
  19. Institute For Policy Studies Philanthropy Roundtable Profile, accessed 10/20/2011
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.7 20.8 American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, Philanthropy Roundtable Financial Record, "ConservativeTransparency.org", accessed July 2014.
  21. Philanthropy Roundtable, Membership Form, organizational form, accessed July 2014.
  22. Philanthropy Roundtable, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, April 23, 2013.
  23. Philanthropy Roundtable, Winner of the 2012 William E. Simon Prize, organizational website, accessed July 2014.
  24. Daniel Bice, Bill Glauber, Ben Poston, From local roots, Bradley Foundation builds conservative empire, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 28, 2011.
  25. Philanthropy Roundtable, 2015 IRS 990 Form, Philanthropy Roundtable, May 16, 2016.
  26. Philanthropy Roundtable, 2014 IRS 990 Form, Philanthropy Roundtable, May 11, 2015.
  27. Philanthropy Roundtable, 2013 IRS 990 Form, Philanthropy Roundtable, April 29, 2014.
  28. Philanthropyroundtable.org, [1], accessed July 11,2017
  29. Philanthropyroundtable.org, [2], accessed July 11, 2017