Philanthropy Roundtable


The Philanthropy Roundtable

Background

The Philanthropy Roundtable 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” with members including individual philanthropists, families, and private foundations. The Philanthropy Roundtable's stated mission is to “foster excellence in philanthropy, to protect philanthropic freedom, to assist donors in achieving their philanthropic intent, and to help donors advance liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility in America and abroad.” [1]

The Philanthropy Roundtable was founded in the 1970s and initially operated under the auspices of the Institute for Educational Affairs (IEA) and headed by Leslie Lenkowsky, who was a research fellow with the American Enterprise Institute. In 1987, he began publishing IEA's quarterly newsletter Philanthropy and distributing it among grantmakers. In 1991, the Roundtable became its own independent non-profit corporation with headquarters in Indianapolis, for a period, with Kimberly Dennis serving as the first executive director until 1996. Dennis is now president and CEO of Searle Freedom Trust, chairman of the board of DonorsTrust, a former director at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), and former member of the Philanthropy Roundtable's board of directors. It is now run by Adam Meyerson, a former executive of the Heritage Foundation and a former managing editor of American Spectator, and it is located in Washington, DC[2], [3], [4]

In a 2019 article in Environmental Research Letters, researching climate change misinformation in US philanthropy, Yale University's Dr. Justin Farrell described The Philanthropy Roundtable as “perhaps the leading institution shaping US philanthropy.” He added, “this institution birthed the untraceable and hugely influential donor-directed funds DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, which some researchers have hypothesized have played a role in climate change contrarianism.” [5]

According to Media Matters: “The Philanthropy [Roundtable] 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.'” [6]

The Philanthropy Roundtable's listed programs include:

In January 2005, the Philanthropy Roundtable launched the Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR), a group that has actively opposed legislation that would increase disclosures of philanthropic giving as well as regular reviews of organizations to assess tax-exempt status. [7]

Dark Money “Illuminates Our Free Society”

Adam Meyerson, the president of the Philanthropy Roundtable since 2001, has argued that “dark money” isn't necessarily a bad thing. In an article posted in Philanthropy, the quarterly magazine of The Philanthropy Roundtable, Meyerson wrote:  [8]

“Liberal critics of DonorsTrust, a donor-advised-fund sponsor for 'organizations that promote liberty,' have labeled it as a 'secretive funding network' and 'dark-money ATM.' But the right to privacy enjoyed by contributors to donor-advised funds is no different than the right to privacy that governs the overwhelming majority of charitable giving.

[…]

“So-called 'dark money' illuminates our free society.” [8]

Koch Ties

In addition to support of at least $385,290 from Koch-related foundations, the Philanthropy Roundtable bestowed the “William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership” to Charles G. Koch in October 2011. [9]

Greenpeace has described Koch Industries, run by Charles and his brother David Koch, as a “kingpin of climate science denial,” outpacing ExxonMobil when it comes to donations to organizations opposing established climate science and regulations to combat greenhouse gas emissions. [10]

Koch Family Foundations—including the David H. Koch Foundation, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation (disbanded as of 2013)—have given over $100 Million to conservative organizations, many of which are dedicated to opposing policies to combat climate change. [11]

Stance on Climate Change

The Philanthropy Roundtable does not have an official statement on climate change. Two organizations described as “spin offs” of the Philanthropy Roundtable—Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund—have gone on to fund some of the most prominent organizations promoting climate change denial in the United States. [12]

Funding

The following funding data is based on archived data from the Conservative Transparency (CT) project, combined with data from publicly available 990 tax forms reviewed by DeSmog. Note that not all CT data has been verified by DeSmog. [13]

View the attached spreadsheet for details on Philanthropy Roundtable funding by year (.xlsx).

Philanthropy Roundtable as Recipient

Donor Total (1993 - 2017)
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation $5,075,000
William E. Simon Foundation $4,000,500
John Templeton Foundation $3,727,500
Donors Capital Fund $2,854,640
Searle Freedom Trust $1,130,000
Marcus Foundation $1,000,500
Walton Family Foundation $865,800
The Randolph Foundation $784,000
F.M. Kirby Foundation $464,000
Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation $450,000
DonorsTrust $435,623
Jaquelin Hume Foundation $410,000
Ruth & Lovett Peters Foundation $400,000
Allegheny Foundation $380,000
Adolph Coors Foundation $350,000
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation $333,454
Earhart Foundation $310,000
Scaife Family Foundation $295,000
Mercer Family Foundation $280,000
John William Pope Foundation $275,000
Diana Davis Spencer Foundation $240,000
Hertog Foundation $195,000
Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation $183,000
Sarah Scaife Foundation $180,000
Schwab Charitable Fund $176,000
JM Foundation $165,000
Dodge Jones Foundation $163,500
Castle Rock Foundation $155,000
Lillian S. Wells Foundation $131,000
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation $128,750
Ed Uihlein Family Foundation $125,000
Stuart Family Foundation $116,500
The Challenge Foundation $100,000
National Philanthropic Trust $100,000
Barney Family Foundation $90,000
Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation $74,000
The Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation $60,000
Colcom Foundation $58,000
National Christian Charitable Foundation $56,000
Ravenel and Elizabeth Curry Foundation $55,000
The Roe Foundation $54,000
Paul E. Singer Foundation $50,000
George Edward Durell Foundation $45,000
Claude R Lambe Charitable Foundation $44,200
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation $40,000
Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation $37,000
Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation $34,616
Apex Foundation $33,500
E L Craig Foundation $25,000
Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation $20,100
Armstrong Foundation $20,000
The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation $17,500
William H. Donner Foundation $12,000
Tepper Family Foundation $11,500
Bradley Impact Fund $11,000
Deramus Foundation $10,000
Charles Koch Institute $7,636
Philip M. McKenna Foundation $7,500
Einhorn Family Foundation $6,000
The Weiler Foundation $5,000
Robert and Marie Hansen Foundation $5,000
Cato Institute $5,000
The Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation $4,000
Chase Foundation of Virginia $1,500
Lynn & Foster Friess Family Foundation $1,000
Richard Seth Staley Educational Foundation $700
Eyas Foundation $500
Arthur N. Rupe Foundation $500
Grand Total $26,882,519

Philanthropy Roundtable as Donor

Below is a partial listing, including only the most notable donees:

Recipient 2007 2010 2011 Grand Total
DonorsTrust $250,000 $250,000
Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies $125,000 $125,000
Institute for Humane Studies $250,000 $250,000
Grand Total $125,000 $250,000 $250,000 $625,000

Koch Funding

Donor
Year Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation Claude R Lambe Charitable Foundation Charles Koch Institute Grand Total
1993 $1,000 $1,000
1995 $16,000 $16,000
1996 $2,500 $2,500
1997 $5,000 $5,000
1998 $5,000 $5,000
1999 $5,000 $5,000
2000 $5,000 $5,000
2001 $5,000 $5,000
2002 $19,200 $19,200
2004 $25,000 $25,000
2005 $25,000 $25,000
2006 $100,000 $100,000
2007 $25,000 $25,000
2009 $43,968 $43,968
2010 $25,000 $25,000
2011 $25,000 $25,000
2012 $5,777 $5,777
2013 $25,000 $25,000
2014 $14,209 $7,636 $21,845
Grand Total $333,454 $44,200 $7,636 $385,290

990 Forms

Key People

Board of Directors

Name 2001 2002 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Description
Heather Higgins Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Vice Chairman
Fred Klipsch Y Y Y Y Board Member
John Jackson Y Y Y Y Board Member
Suzie Kovner Y Y Y Board Member
David Stover Y Y Treasurer
Heather Templeton Dill Y Y Secretary
Richard W. Graber Y Y Chairman
Daniel S. Peters Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Vice Chairman
John Tyler Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Secretary
Donn Weinberg Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Chairman and Treasurer
Betsy DeVos Y Y Y Chairman
James Arthur “Art” Pope Y Y Treasurer
Denis Calabrese Y
Michael W. Grebe Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Chairman
James Piereson Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Vice Chairman
Ana Thompson Y Y Y Y Y Y Finance Committee Chair
David Riggs Y Vice President of Philanthropic Strategy
Jeff D. Sandefer Y Y Y Y Y Y
Kimberly O. Dennis Y Y Y Y Y
Chester E. Finn Jr. Y Y Y Y Y Secretary and Treasurer
Joseph S. Dolan Y Y Y
Joanne B. Beyer Y Y Vice Chairman
Louise V. Oliver Y Chairman
Michael S. Joyce Y Vice Chairman

Staff

Name 1997 1998 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Description
Adam Meyerson Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y President
Anthony Pienta Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Director of K-12 Education Programs
Suzi Marchena Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Director of Finance and Human Resources
Jo Kwong Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Director of Economic Opportunity Programs
Rachel Verdejo Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Director of Foundation Relations
Karl Zinsmeister Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Vice President of Publications
Ashley May Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Managing Editor
Patrick Burke Y Y Y Y Y Program Manager of K-12 Education Programs
Amanda Rossie Y Y Y Y Chief Operating Officer
Katherine Haley Y Y Y Y Senior Director of K-12 Education Programs
Angie Lawry Y Y Y Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Anne Snyder Y Y Y Director, Character Initiative
Eric Peterman Y Y Y Development Coordinator
Sean Parnell Y Y Y Vice President of Public Policy
Joanne Florino Y Y Y Y Y Y Vice President of Philanthropic Services
Anna Bobb Y Y Director of Health Programs
Bethany Fefelov Y Y Digital Strategy Manager
Caitrin Keiper Y Y Editor
Courtney Ford Y Y Data Strategy and Communications Manager
Molly Kincaid Y Y Director of Marketing and Communications
Tareea Smith Y Y Event Marketing Coordinator
Adam Kissel Y Director of Civic and Higher Education Programs
Shaun Rieley Y Director of Veterans Programs
Tina Cordova Y Director of Events
Lindsay Miller Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Director of Events
J. P. De Gance Y Y Y Y Y Y Executive Vice President
Marques Chavez Y Y Y Y Y Y Director of Communications
Christina Tenney Y Y Y Y Director of External Affairs, Culture of Freedom Initiative
Cecilia Diem Y Y Senior Grant Writer
Joseph Moser Y Senior Direct Marketing Strategist, Culture of Freedom Initiative
Lauren Augustine Y Veteran Services Program Manager
Meg Moss Y Director of Strategic Engagement
Thomas Meyer Y Y Y Y Y Y Director of Veterans Services
Caitrin Nicol Keiper Y Y Y Y Y Editor
Will Hild Y Y Y Y Director of External Affairs, Culture of Freedom Initiative
David Riggs Y Y Y Vice President of Philanthropic Strategy
Julie Drinkard Y Y Y Director of Membership
Kristen McIntyre Y Y Y Strategic Communications Manager
Sarah Spinner Y Y Manager of Grant Strategy, Culture of Freedom Initiative
Andrea Scott Y Y Y Associate Editor
Amanda Telford Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Managing Director of Operations
Dorothy Martinez Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Senior Director of Regional Events
Michael Horn Y Y Y Y Membership Manager
Cecelia Miles Hubach Y Y Research and Data Coordinator
Matt Bazik Y Y Data Manager
Christopher Roberts Y Project Coordinator
Marc Morris Y Development Fellow
Nicole Jarbo Y Director of K–12 Education Programs
Dan Fishman Y Y Director of K–12 Education Programs
Kate Bermingham Y Y Executive Project Coordinator
Cassandra McClellan Y Meetings Coordinator
Shannon Toronto Y Y Y Y Y Y Chief Operating Officer
Brian Anderson Y Y Y Y Y Director of Technology
Christopher Levenick Y Y Y Y Editor-in-Chief, Philanthropy
Evan Sparks Y Y Y Managing Editor, Philanthropy
Patrice Lee Y Y Y Project Manager, Public Policy
Sue Santa Y Y Y Senior Vice President for Public Policy
Kari Barbic Y Y Associate Editor, Philanthropy
Rebecca Stewart Y Y Y Y Director of K-12 Education Programs
Tom Riley Y Y Vice President for Communications
Becca Wammack Y Executive Project Coordinator
Elizabeth Isele Y Director of Economic Opportunity Programs
Alex Echols Y Y Y Y Director of Conservation Programs
Christopher Yablonski Y Y Development Director
Lynn Gibson Y Y Director of Community Relations
René Krynovich Y Y Annual Meeting Coordinator
Emily Dalpiaz Y Project Coordinator, K-12 Education Programs
Monica Mastracco Y Project Coordinator
Rachel Rounsville Y Grant Writer
Stephanie Saroki Y Y Y Y Y Senior Director of K-12 Education Programs
Jenise Leaser Y Director of Finance and Human Resources
John Mecham Y Director of Helping People to Help Themselves Programs
Jonathan Krive Y Development Coordinator
Kaitlyn Buss Y Managing Editor, Philanthropy
Lacey Yoder Y Acting Annual Meeting Director
Libby Greene Y Project Coordinator, Outcomes and Events
Jenise Snyder Y Y Director of Finance and Human Resources
Kirk E. Oberfeld Y Y Vice President for Research and Communications
Mark Smith Y Y Director of National Security Programs
Michael Leaser Y Y Managing Editor, Philanthropy
Ashley M. Hall Y Project Coordinator
John Agresto Y Director of Higher Education Programs
Mary Johns Y Director of Major Events
Sharon Wood Y Y Annual Meeting Director
Frederic Fransen Y Director of Higher Education Programs
Martin A. Davis Y Y Y Y Managing Editor, Philanthropy
Scott Walter Y Y Y Y Vice President for Research and Publications
Sarah Harper Y Y Director of Finance and Technology
Barbara Buchanan Y Chief Operating Officer
Lynn Turpin Y Chief Operating Officer
Jean Rowan Y Finance and Database Administrator
Shawn Sussin Y Acting Vice President for Finance and Administration
Lisa F. Griffin Y Y Vice President for Finance and Administration
James F.X. O'Gara Y Y Y Executive Director
John P. Walters Y Y Y President 
Jan Forbes Y Assistant Art Director
Justin Torres Y Managing Editor, Philanthropy
Lara Y. Stead Y Y Director of Associate Services
Whitney L. Ball Y Y Executive Director
Dan McKivergan Y Director of Policy
Steve Tappan Y Research Associate
Jessica L. Gavora Y Director of Publications

Other People

Describing its history, while it was still working under the Institute for Educational Affairs (IEA), the Philanthropy Roundtrable was headed by Leslie Lenkowsky. Kimberly Dennis served as its first executive director after the Roundtable became an independent entity in 1991 until 1996. [2]

Actions

Ongoing

The Philanthropy Roundtable hosts an annual meeting, which it describes as “The Philanthropy Roundtable's premier event for foundation trustees and philanthropic decision makers committed to strengthening our free society and to exploring, collaborating, and solving our nation's greatest problems through meaningful and effective philanthropy.” [14]

According to the Philanthropy Roundtable's website, qualified attendees include:

  • Individual philanthropists
  • Board and Staff of Private Foundations
  • Board and Staff of Operating Foundations
  • Board and Staff of Corporate Foundations and Corporate Giving Programs
  • CEO, Executive Director or President of Community Foundations
  • CEO, Executive Director or President of Venture Philanthropy Partnerships
  • CEO, Executive Director or President of Donor Advised Funds
  • CEO, Executive Director or President of Regional Grantmaker Associations
  • Donor Advisors may attend with a qualified donor or provide verification of registration on behalf of a qualified donor.
  • CEO, Executive Director of President of qualified public charities. Qualified public charities include those that make grants in excess of one million dollars annually and devote more than half of their operating budget to grants for external activities (excluding scholarships.)

SourceWatch has documented that Charles Koch has a long history of involvement at the Roundtable's annual meetings.

Past meetings include:

October 2011

The Philanthropy Roundtable administered the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership to Charles Koch. According to the description in Philanthropy magazine, “The prize is intended to honor living philanthropists who have shown exemplary leadership through their own charitable giving, either directly or through foundations they have created.” [9]

View Charles Koch's acceptance speech below:

January 2005

The Philanthropy Roundtable launched the Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR), a 501(c)(3) non-profit group that would oppose regulations on philanthropic groups. “Our mission is to promote the right of Americans to choose how and where to spend their charitable assets and to defend that right amidst legislative or political processes that weaken it,” the ACR's website states. [7]

ACR's executive director is Sandra Swirski, former partner at the lobbying firm Venn Strategies, LLC and co-founder of Urban Swirski & Associates, LLC. Sean Parnell, vice president of public policy for The Philanthropy Roundtable, also serves on the staff of ACR. [15]

According to its history page: [16]

“In January of 2005, The Philanthropy Roundtable founded the Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR). ACR was formed as an emergency advocacy initiative to respond to legislative efforts on Capitol Hill targeted at the charitable community and help bring common sense to the charitable reform debate protecting philanthropic freedom in America – particularly from the perspective of smaller, family foundations.” [16]

The group's early efforts included opposition to what it describes as “potentially harmful policy changes” including “accreditation requirements on tax-exempt organizations, mandatory five-year reviews of tax-exempt status, and limits on types of organizations that foundations could support.” [16]

In 2008, ACR boasts of fighting in the California Legislature against bills that “would have significantly increased onerous reporting requirements for foundations and their grantees.” [16]

1997

A 1997 report by the National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy, quoted by Media Transparency, documented the participation of the Koch Brothers in the 1995 annual conference: [17]

“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.”

Related Organizations

Contact & Address

As of 2019, The Philanthropy Roundtable listed the following contact information on its website: [19]

1120 20th Street NW
Suite 550 South
Washington, D.C. 20036

Phone: 202.822.8333
Fax: 202.822.8325
[email protected]

Social Media

Resources

  1. Who We Are,” Philanthropy Roundtable. Archived April 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/AtDYm

  2. History of The Philanthropy Roundtable,” Philanthropy Roundtable. Archived April 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/kvegv

  3. Directors & Staff,” DonorsTrust. Archived April 11, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/Z5oHw

  4. Our Board,” Philanthropy Roundtable. Archived August 13, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/1HyAV

  5. Justin Farrell. “The growth of climate change misinformation in US philanthropy: evidence from natural language processing” (PDF), Environmental Research Letters. 14 034013 (2019).

  6. Philanthropy Roundtable,” Media Matters. Archived May 3, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/IJFO0

  7. ABOUT US,” Alliance for Charitable Reform. Archived April 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/pwIKU

  8. Adam Meyerson. “President's Note: Misconceptions about 'Dark Money',” Philanthropy Roundtable, Fall 2013. Archived April 9, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/M8JWb

  9. Market-Based Man,” Philanthropy Roundtable, 2011. Archived January 19, 2016. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/3FuVT

  10. Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine (PDF)Greenpeace, March 2010.

  11. Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine,” Greenpeace.org. Accessed March 11, 2017. Data on file at DeSmog.

  12. Philanthropy Roundtable,” SourceWatch. Accessed April 12, 2019.

  13. Philanthropy Roundtable,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed April 11, 2019.

  14. Meeting Attendance Qualifications,” Philanthropy Roundtable. Archived April 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/WNwkq

  15. Staff,” Alliance for Charitable Reform. Archived April 12, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/YZc8u

  16. History,” Alliance for Charitable Reform. Archived April 12, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/jYU9Z

  17. The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations: Moving a Public Policy Agenda,” National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy, 1997. Quoted by Media Transparency. Archived March 10, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/gPGL2

  18. Philanthropy Roundtable,” SPN. Archived April 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ErBVq

  19. Contact Us,” The Philanthropy Roundtable. Archived April 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/lYWL5

Other Resources