SOURCE:  Wikipedia, 2020-05-28

  • Formation: 1999
  • Type: Nonprofit (IRC § 501(c)(3))
  • Legal status: 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization [not required to disclose donors]
  • Location: Alexandria, Virginia, US
  • Services: Donor-advised fund
  • CEO: Lawson R. Bader
  • Board of directors: Kimberly Dennis  |  James Piereson  |  Lawson Bader  |  Thomas Beach
  • Affiliations: Donors Capital Fund
  • Revenue (2014): $67,869,616
  • Expenses (2014): $58,239,511
  • Website:
  • See also [re: donor-advised funds]:  National Philanthropic Trust  |  Philanthropy Roundtable  |  Tides Foundation.


  • DonorsTrust is an American non-profit donor-advised fund. It was founded in 1999 with the goal of "safeguarding the intent of libertarian and conservative donors." As a donor advised fund, DonorsTrust is not legally required to disclose the identity of its donors, and most of its donors remain anonymous. It distributes funds to various conservative and libertarian organizations. It is affiliated with Donors CapitalFund, another donor-advised fund. In September 2015, Lawson R. Bader was announced as the new President of both DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. Bader was formerly President of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Vice President at the Mercatus Center.


    DonorsTrust is a 501(c)(3) organization. As a public charity and a donor-advised fund, DonorsTrust offers clients a variety of tax advantages compared to a private foundation.

    DonorsTrust accepts donations from charitable foundations and individuals. Grants from DonorsTrust are based on the preferences of the original contributor, and the organization assures clients that their contributions will never be used to support politically liberal causes. As a donor advised fund, DonorsTrust can offer anonymity to individual donors, with respect to their donations to DonorsTrust, as well as with respect to an individual donor's ultimate grantee.

    As a donor advised fund and public charity, DonorsTrust accepts cash or assets from donors, and in turn creates a separate account for the donor, who may recommend disbursements from the fund to other public charities. DonorsTrust requires an initial deposit of $10,000 or more. DonorsTrust is associated with Donors Capital FundDonorsTrust refers clients to Donors Capital Fund if the client plans to maintain a balance of $1 million or more. DonorsTrust president Lawson Bader said the goal of the organization is to "safeguard the intent of libertarian and conservative donors," ensuring that funds are used only to promote "liberty through limited government, responsibility, and free enterprise."


    DonorsTrust was established in 1999 by Whitney Lynn Ball. According to DonorsTrust, the organization was founded by a group of donors and nonprofit executives who were "actively engaged in supporting and promoting a free society as understood in America's founding documents."

    In early 2013, DonorsTrust was the subject of investigative journalism reports by the British newspapers The Independent and The Guardian, and the United States entities Mother Jones and the Center for Public Integrity. Mother Jones described DonorsTrust as having funded a conservative public policy agenda in the areas of labor unions, climate science, public schools, and economic regulations.

    Donors [Funding]

    As of 2013, DonorsTrust had 193 contributors, mostly individuals, and some foundations.

    The Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Knowledge and Progress Fund, another of the Koch family foundations, contributed $3.3 million to DonorsTrust between 2007 and 2011. The Knowledge and Progress Fund contributed $4.5 million to DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund between 2006 and 2012. DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund were the only grantees of the Knowledge and Progress Fund through 2013, according to The Independent. The Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, were the top contributors to DonorsTrust in 2011, according to an analysis by the Columbia Journalism Review published by Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In 2010, DonorsTrust received a US$2 million grant from the Donors Capital Fund.

    DonorsTrust account holders have included the John M. Olin Foundation, the Castle Rock Foundation, the Searle Freedom Trust, and the Bradley Foundation. The Bradley family contributed $650,000 between 2001 and 2010. The DeVos family foundation contributed $1 million in 2009 and $1.5 million in 2010 to DonorsTrust.

  • The Searle Freedom Trust granted -- via Donors Trust -- $597,500 between 2005 and 2010, $650,000 in 2013, and $500,000 in 2015 [a total of $1,747,500] to fund the Project on Fair Representation.

  • The Project on Fair Representation is a Washington, D.C.-based legal defense fund that recruited plaintiffs in lawsuits to challenge affirmative action in college admissions policies, including the United States Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas and at Harvard University.

  • In 2010, the Donors Capital Fund granted US$2 million to DonorsTrust.

  • Recipients

    From its founding in 1999 through 2013, DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund distributed nearly $400 million, and through 2015 $740 million, to various nonprofit organizations, including numerous conservative and libertarian causes. DonorsTrust requires that recipients are registered with the US Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) public charity. Whitney Ball, the former president of DonorsTrust, told The Guardian in 2013 that DonorsTrust has about 1,600 grantees. In 2014, Ball said that 70 to 75 percent of grants go to public policy organizations, with the rest going to more conventional charities such as social service and educational organizations.

    In 2010, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation received a DonorsTrust grant of $7 million, nearly half of the Foundation's revenue that year.

    Other DonorsTrust recipients have included:

    DonorsTrust paid the legal fees of the Project on Fair Representation, a Washington, D.C.-based legal defense fund that assembled the plaintiff's legal team in Fisher v. University of Texas, a 2013 United States Supreme Court case concerning affirmative action college admissions policies. In 2011, the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, an online news organization, received $6.3 million in DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund grants, 95 percent of the center's revenue that year.

    Other DonorsTrust recipients have included the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the James Randi Educational Foundation, the Marijuana Policy Project, and PragerU.

    Climate change related funding

    DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund distributed nearly $120 million to 102 think tanks and action groups skeptical of the science behind climate change between 2002 and 2010. According to a 2013 analysis by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle, between 2003 and 2013 DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund combined were the largest funders of organizations opposed to restrictions on carbon emissions, which Brulle calls the "climate change counter-movement." According to Brulle, by 2009, approximately one-quarter of the funding of the "climate counter-movement" was from the DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund.

    As of 2010, DonorsTrust grants to conservative and libertarian organizations active in climate change issues included more than

    In 2011, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), the conservative Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization, received $1.2 million from DonorsTrust, 40 percent of CFACT's revenue in that year.

    Climate change writer Wei-Hock "Willie" Soon received hundreds of thousands of dollars from DonorsTrust.

    In 2015, The Guardian reported that DonorsTrust gave $4.3 million to the Competitive Enterprise Institute over three years.

    State-based policy funding

    Between 2008 and 2013, DonorsTrust granted $10 million to the State Policy Network (SPN), a national network of conservative and libertarian think tanks focused on state-level policy. SPN used the grants to incubate new think tanks in Arkansas, Rhode Island and Florida. DonorsTrust also issued grants to SPN's affiliates at the state level during the same period. The American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives that drafts and shares model state-level legislation, is a DonorsTrust recipient.

    Project Veritas

    DonorsTrust donated $1.7 million to Project Veritas, a group run by conservative activist James O'Keefe, which attempts through undercover video stings to demonstrate the biases of mainstream media organizations and liberal groups. DonorsTrust's relationship with Project Veritas came under scrutiny in 2017 after Project Veritas had one of its operative contact The Washington Post, falsely claiming to have been impregnated by Roy Moore while she was a teenager.

    following added 2021-08-07 - reformat

    Project Veritas (Wikipedia)

    Elections and the judiciary

    In 2018, DonorsTrust funded more than 99% of the Judicial Education Project, a legal alias for Honest Elections Project and The 85 Fund.

    Board of Directors

    The Board of Directors of DonorsTrust includes [captured 2020-10-12]:

    Additional Reading

  • [, 2021-11-19] "Dark Money ATM" Pumped Over $137 Million Into Right-Wing Groups in 2020.

  • [, 2021-11-19] DonorsTrust Gives $600k Donation to White Nationalist Hate Group.

  • [2020-10-13] "Must-watch:" Senator Sheldon Whitehouse Schools Amy Coney Barrett on Dark Money. Superb presentation illustrating Republican Party and dark money influencers on vested special interests (abolition of: affordable health care, access to abortions, LGBTQ+ rights, judicial freedom; concentration of obfuscated power; ...).

  • [2020-07-31]  Here Are the Billionaires Funding Trump's Voter Suppression Lawsuits.  Dozens of billionaires have donated to the RNC's legal fund that is being used to fight against expanded access to mail voting.