DonorsTrust is a not-for-profit company that distributes millions of dollars in grants each year to groups, organisations and projects that are “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise”.
Between 2004 and 2013, Donors Trust (DT) distributed some $80 million to conservative causes, many of which deny the science and impacts of human-caused climate change or the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund share the same address in Alexandria, Virginia, and share a number of directors, including the late Whitney Ball, the CEO of DT.
Whitney Ball passed away in August of 2015. 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. , 
A 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:
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 organisation 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”.
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.
Distribution of Funds
Donors Trust 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 Donors Trust to its partner organisation, Donors Capital Fund (DCF).
2015 Greenpeace Investigation
A December, 2015 undercover investigation by Greenpeace uncovered more details on the DonorsTrust process. 
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.” 
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”. 
“We only accept donations in U.S. currency and drawn from U.S. banks. Donors Trust 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. 
Stance on Climate Change
As a funding organisation neither Donors Trust, 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.
Donors Trust is a vehicle for rich conservative philanthropists and their organisations 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 organisations. 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 organisation 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 Donors Trust.
The $4.85 million KPF grant to Donors Trust for “general operating support” in 2013 is likely the largest ever single donation to Donors Trust 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 organisation handing cash to DT. 
Groups Funded by Donors Trust
Below is a sample of some notable organizations funded by DonorsTrust, compiled from data retrieved from Conservative Transparency. See the attached spreadsheet for complete data on all recipients and DonorsTrust's donations by year (.xlsx). 
- Americans for Prosperity Foundation — $22,008,411
- Cause of Action — $10,300,000
- Mercatus Center — $10,079,250
- Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies — $9,844,600
- Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow — $7,839,387
- Competitive Enterprise Institute — $5,200,550
- Discovery Institute — $4,595,000
- Citizens Against Government Waste — $3,744,400
- Independent Women's Forum — $3,704,104
- Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives — $3,270,250
- National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Legal Foundation — $3,190,000
- Donors Capital Fund — $2,793,252
- NumbersUSA — $2,747,750
- Government Accountability Institute — $2,000,000
- Center for Individual Rights — $1,995,800
- State Policy Network — $1,839,499
- Reason Foundation — $1,502,700
- Sutherland Institute — $1,467,500
- Freedom Works Foundation — $1,418,000
- Institute for Humane Studies — $1,397,900
- The James Partnership — $1,231,500
- FreedomWorks Foundation — $1,153,423
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation — $1,073,950
- Institute for Justice — $968,650
- Employment Policies Institute Foundation — $925,500
- NFIB Small Business Legal Center — $915,000
- Project Veritas — $907,098
- George Mason University School of Law — $905,000
- NRA Freedom Action Foundation — $870,000
- Consumers' Research — $865,000
- Cato Institute — $826,806
- American Majority — $822,830
- Institute for Energy Research — $809,000
- Independence Institute — $795,866
- Illinois Policy Institute — $794,706
- Texas Public Policy Foundation — $789,600
- Manhattan Institute for Policy Research — $748,500
- Institute on Religion and Democracy — $700,000
- Foreign Policy Initiative — $700,000
- Fund for American Studies — $695,119
- Leadership Institute — $681,498
- Free To Choose Network — $661,000
- Yankee Institute for Public Policy — $645,000
- Heartland Institute — $632,000
- Foundation for Government Accountability — $625,000
- Moving Picture Institute — $597,225
- Center for Competitive Politics — $590,500
- Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy — $584,000
- Media Research Center — $558,250
- American Council on Science and Health — $549,574
- National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation — $548,850
- National Taxpayers Union Foundation — $524,450
- George Mason University — $523,500
- George Mason University Foundation — $522,000
- Human Rights Foundation — $521,382
- Americans for Limited Government Foundation — $501,100
- Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty — $501,100
- New Atlantic Initiative — $494,000
- Institute of World Politics — $474,000
- Concerned Women for America — $455,100
- Harvard University — $450,000
- Center for Union Facts — $437,000
- Students for Liberty — $382,600
- American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research — $381,250
- Ethics and Public Policy Center — $378,000
- Empower Texans Foundation — $370,000
- Heritage Foundation — $356,900
- Center for Immigration Studies — $350,000
- Americans for Tax Reform Foundation — $332,150
- National Center for Public Policy Research — $313,950
- The Heritage Foundation — $308,265
- Hanover Institute — $306,250
- Hudson Institute — $304,000
- Wyoming Liberty Group — $301,000
- Parents in Charge Foundation — $300,000
- George Mason Environmental Law Clinic — $300,000
- Grassroot Institute of Hawaii — $296,776
- American Friends of the Institute of Economic Affairs — $284,900
- Smithsonian Institution — $274,999
- First Freedoms Foundation — $248,958
- International Policy Network — $247,320
- National Right to Life Committee — $246,378
- Goldwater Institute — $228,650
- Landmark Legal Foundation — $222,100
- Young America's Foundation — $218,786
- Families Against Mandatory Minimums Foundation — $215,000
- David Horowitz Freedom Center — $212,000
- Center for Independent Employees — $210,135
- Lucy Burns Institute — $201,400
- Marijuana Policy Project — $200,500
- Northwestern University — $200,000
- Brown University — $190,000
- National Review Institute — $186,601
- Institute for American Values — $177,762
- American Action Forum — $170,000
- Randolph Bourne Institute — $155,000
- Philanthropy Roundtable — $154,750
- Santa Fe Institute — $151,300
- Property and Environment Research Center — $150,750
- 1851 Center for Constitutional Law — $150,000
- Galen Institute — $147,000
- Citizens In Charge Foundation — $146,600
- Bill of Rights Institute — $140,450
- International Freedom Educational Foundation — $135,500
- Center for Security Policy — $135,000
- Cornell University — $132,000
- Council for National Policy — $126,000
- Job Creators Alliance — $125,000
- Africa Fighting Malaria — $118,500
- Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research — $117,000
- Frontiers of Freedom Institute — $107,500
- American Spectator Foundation — $103,500
- National Legal and Policy Center — $100,600
- The Rockefeller University — $100,000
- True The Vote — $100,000
- National Center for Policy Analysis — $97,150
- Judicial Watch — $96,900
- Middle East Forum — $95,500
- Center for Education Reform — $93,000
- Center for Organizational Research and Education — $89,112
- Foreign Policy Research Institute — $87,927
- Intercollegiate Studies Institute — $87,200
- Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — $86,200
- Statistical Assessment Service — $86,000
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy — $85,800
- Claremont Institute — $76,250
- National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship — $76,000
- Institute for Global Engagement — $75,000
- Institute for Marriage and Public Policy — $75,000
- Duke University — $75,000
- Montana Policy Institute — $74,000
- Capital Research Center — $71,650
- Christian Freedom International — $71,000
- Drug Policy Alliance — $70,500
- Future of Freedom Foundation — $60,659
- Kansas Policy Institute — $60,599
- New America Foundation — $60,000
- Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice — $58,750
- Center for Consumer Freedom — $57,250
- The Freedom Foundation — $56,750
- The Claremont Institute — $51,950
- National Organization for Marriage Education Fund — $50,500
- Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions — $50,000
- Caeser Rodney Institute — $50,000
- Free Enterprise Education Institute — $50,000
- Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty — $50,000
- Jack Miller Center for Teaching America's Founding Principles and History — $50,000
- Johns Hopkins University — $47,500
- Tax Foundation — $46,000
- Freedom Foundation — $44,650
- Mountain States Legal Foundation — $43,050
- Brookings Institution — $40,450
- Southeastern Legal Foundation — $40,000
- Ludwig von Mises Institute — $37,100
- Hispanic American Center for Economic Research — $35,000
- Beacon Center of Tennessee — $32,500
- American Legislative Exchange Council — $31,300
- Rockefeller University — $30,000
- Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty — $30,000
- PERC — $29,500
- James Madison Institute — $28,242
- Ernest Martin Hopkins Institute — $27,653
- Focus on the Family — $25,700
- World Vision — $25,000
- Regular Folks United — $25,000
- Wisconsin Policy Research Institute — $25,000
- Indiana University — $25,000
- National Black Chamber of Commerce — $25,000
- Independent Institute — $23,500
- Hoover Institution on War Revolution and Peace — $22,000
- U.S. English Foundation — $21,600
- National Association of Scholars — $21,500
- Federation for American Immigration Reform — $21,350
- Arizona State University Foundation — $20,500
- Spark Freedom — $20,500
- American University — $20,300
- American Conservative Union Foundation — $19,750
- John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy — $19,500
- Gun Owners Foundation — $18,900
- Young Life — $17,000
- National Tax Limitation Foundation — $15,200
- The American Cause — $15,000
- Encounter for Culture and Education — $15,000
- Center for Neighborhood Enterprise — $15,000
- Virginia Institute for Public Policy — $14,000
- Alliance for School Choice — $13,350
- American Foreign Policy Council — $12,000
- Parents Television Council — $11,000
- Middle East Media Research Institute — $11,000
- Aspen's Strategic Initiative Institute — $10,000
- National Christian Foundation — $10,000
- The David Project — $10,000
- Jihad Watch — $10,000
- Foundation for Defense of Democracies — $10,000
- Civitas Institute — $9,915
- Campus Crusade for Christ — $8,400
- Washington Legal Foundation — $7,500
- Sunshine Review — $7,500
- Maine Heritage Policy Center — $7,500
- Public Interest Institute — $7,500
- California Public Policy Foundation — $7,500
- Ohio University — $7,500
- Cascade Policy Institute — $7,500
- Rio Grande Foundation — $7,500
- Pacific Legal Foundation — $6,600
- The Independent Institute — $6,500
- Foundation for Rational Economics and Education — $5,650
- Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy — $5,000
- Investigative Project on Terrorism — $5,000
- Project for the New American Century — $5,000
- American Civil Rights Institute — $3,450
- Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation — $3,000
- American Council on Science Health — $3,000
- Common Good Institute — $3,000
- Mont Pelerin Society — $3,000
- Institute for Policy Innovation — $2,500
- Freedom Alliance — $2,000
- Washington Policy Center — $2,000
- White House Writers Group — $2,000
- Citizens' Council on Health Care — $1,000
- Americans for Limited Government — $1,000
- National Taxpayers Union — $1,000
- Employment Policies Institute — $1,000
- Liberty Foundation — $450
- Citizens' Council for Health Freedom — $250
- Beacon Hill Institute — $250
- Free Congress Foundation — $250
- Carnegie Institution — $200
- Accuracy in Media — $200
- Atlantic Legal Foundation — $100
DonorsTrust as Recipient
The following is based on data compiled by Conservative Transparency and also from publicly available 990 forms:
- Donors Capital Fund — $23,511,424
- DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative — $6,500,000
- The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation — $3,069,292
- Mercer Family Foundation — $2,250,000
- Searle Freedom Trust — $2,008,500
- Paul E. Singer Foundation — $1,155,605
- Knowledge and Progress Fund — $800,000
- Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation — $525,000
- Barney Family Foundation — $300,000
- National Christian Charitable Foundation — $300,000
- Philanthropy Roundtable — $250,000
- Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty — $242,350
- Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation — $200,000
- Marshall Heritage Foundation — $200,000
- Holman Foundation — $160,313
- William E. Simon Foundation — $150,000
- John William Pope Foundation — $105,000
- William H. Donner Foundation — $100,000
- Earhart Foundation — $72,500
- John Dawson Foundation — $55,300
- Lillian S. Wells Foundation — $25,000
- Ruth & Lovett Peters Foundation — $25,000
- The Randolph Foundation — $20,000
- American Legislative Exchange Council — $12,500
- Institute for Humane Studies — $2,500
Americans for Prosperity (AfP) and AfP Foundation
The Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AfPF) is the 501 (c)(3) charitable organisation linked to Americans for Prosperity, the 501 (c)(4) partner lobbying and advocacy organisation.
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 characterises 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” pledge 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.” , 
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.” 
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. 
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
Board of Directors
|James Piereson||Y||Y||Vice Chairman. President, William E. Simon Foundation.|
|Jeffrey C. Zysik||Y||DT Secretary and Treasurer and DT Chief Financial Officer & Chief of Information Technology|
|Kimberly O. Dennis||Y||Y||Chairman. President & CEO, Searle Freedom Trust.|
|Lawson R. Bader||Y||President and CEO, DonorsTrustPast President of Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and past VP at the Mercatus Center at GMU. |
|Thomas E. Beach||Y||Y||Founder & 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. |
|William J. Hume||Y||Y||Chairman of the Board, Basic American, Inc.|
|Christopher D. Renner||Y||Y||Grants & Accounting Manager|
|Jeffrey C. Zysik||Y||Chief Financial Officer & Chief of Information Technology|
|Jeffrey C. Zysik, Secretary||Y||Treasurer, Chief Financial Officer & Chief of Information Technology|
|Lauren V. Skiver||Y||Y||Outreach Manager (Skiver joined DT from the Charles G. Koch Chairtable Foundation) , |
|Lawson R. Bader||Y||President and CEO, DonorsTrust|
|Peter A. Lipsett||Y||Y||Director of Growth Strategies|
|Thomas Wischer||Y||Office 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. |
DonorsTrust Contact & Location
As of June 2016, DonorsTrust listed the following contact information on its website: 
1800 Diagonal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Fax: (703) 535-3564
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. 
“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 DonorsTrust.org/dingo 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 Donors Trust
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.
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 Donors Trust, but it's bankrolled the right's fights against unions, public schools, climate scientists, and more.
Andy Kroll. “Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement,” Mother Jones, February 5, 2013. Archived July 24, 2015.
Donors Trust, Inc. Form 990 (2013). Archived July 24, 2015.
“Market Based Man” (PDF), Philanthropy Vol. XXV, No. 4 (Fall, 2011). Archived July 24, 2015.
”Top Supporters of DonorsTrust,” Conservative Transparency. Archived July 24, 2015.
”Policies Impacting You,” Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Archived July 8, 2015.
”Pledge Takers,” No Climate Tax. Archived July 24, 2015.
Eric Holberg. “Koch: Climate pledge strategy continues to grow,” Investigative Reporting Workshop, July 1, 2013. Archived July 24, 2015.
”AFP's Hot Air Tour: Tim Phillips, Intro Remarks” (YouTube Video) uploaded by user Americans for Prosperity, April 21, 2008.
Jill Fitzsimmons and Shauna Theel. “Climate Change Misinformer Of The Year: Marc Morano,” Media Matters for America, December 27, 2012.
”DonorsTrust Officers & Directors,” DonorsTrust. Archived July 24, 2015.
”Directors & Staff,” Donors Trust. Archived with WebCite March 11, 2015.
Brad Johnson. “Fun fact: The Donors Trust staffer who gave @Smithsonian the Soon $$ came from the Charles Koch foundation #soongate.” February 21, 2015, 7:06 p.m. tweet.
“Nancy Pfotenhauer To Head Grassroots Advocacy Group” (Press Release), Americans for Prosperity, December 1, 2003. Archived June 22, 2004.
”A Tribute to Whitney Ball,” American Legislator (ALEC Blog), August 18, 2015. Archived August 20, 2015.
Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan. “Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding,” GreenPeace EnergyDesk, December 8, 2015. WebCiteURL: http://www.webcitation.org/6deZxlWnq
“Welcome Remnant podcast listeners! Access your free Investing in Liberty guide now ” DonorsTrust. Archived December 11, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/GK0Oa