- Net Assets: Tides Foundation – $144,299,585 (2004); Tides Center – $36,696,785 (2004)
- Grants Received: Tides Foundation – $71,164,955 (2004); Tides Center – $55,233,367 (2004)
- Grants Awarded: Tides Foundation – $74,101,866 (2004); Tides Center – $10,017,642 (2004)
Established in 1976 by California-based activist Drummond Pike, the Tides Foundation was set up as a public charity that receives money from donors and then funnels it to the recipients of their choice. Because many of these recipient groups are quite radical, the donors often prefer not to have their names publicly linked with the donees. By letting the Tides Foundation, in effect, “launder” the money for them and pass it along to the intended beneficiaries, donors can avoid leaving a “paper trail.” Such contributions are called “donor-advised,” or donor-directed, funds.
Through this legal loophole, nonprofit entities can also create for-profit organizations and then funnel money to them through Tides — thereby circumventing the laws that bar nonprofits from directly funding their own for-profit enterprises. Pew Charitable Trusts, for instance, set up three for-profit media companies and then proceeded to fund them via donor-advised contributions to Tides, which (for an 8 percent management fee) in turn sent the money to the media companies.
If a donor wishes to give money to a particular cause but finds that there is no group in existence dedicated specifically to that issue, the Tides Foundation will, for a fee, create a group to meet that perceived need.
The Tides Foundation promotes a multitude of leftist social agendas, as evidenced by its assertion: “We strengthen community-based organizations and the progressive movement by providing an innovative and cost-effective framework for your philanthropy.” Among the crusades to which Tides contributes are: radical environmentalism; the “exclusion of humans from public and private wildlands”; the anti-war movement; anti-free trade campaigns; the banning of firearms ownership; abolition of the death penalty; the right to receive government-funded abortion-on-demand; and radical gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender advocacy.
In recent years the Tides Foundation has strongly supported the National Lawyers Guild, the Council for American-Islamic Relations, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, and People For the American Way – the latter of which started as a Tides Foundation Project in 1981. Tides also runs a tax-exempt “alternative media source” called the Institute for Global Communications (IGC), a leading provider of Web technology to the radical left.
Immediately after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Tides formed a “9/11 Fund” to advocate a “peaceful national response.” Tides later replaced the 9/11 Fund with the “Democratic Justice Fund,” which was financed in large measure by the Open Society Institute of George Soros, who has donated more than $7 million to Tides over the years.
Tides also set up a Peace Strategies Fund and an Iraq Peace Fund, the latter of which has granted money to such groups as MoveOn.org, the National Council of Churches, the Arab-American Action Network, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the pro-Castro groups United for Peace and Justice and Center for Constitutional Rights. In addition, Tides funds “A Better Way Project,” which coordinates the activities of United for Peace and Justice and the Win Without War Coalition/Keep America Safe Campaign.
In the environmental realm, the Tides Foundation has recently made grants to such groups as the Ruckus Society, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Environmental Working Group, Environmental Media Services, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet, and the Wilderness Society. It also supports the California Wildlands Grassroots Project, an organization that advocates “permanent protection of intact wildlands on both public and private [emphasis added] lands” in that state.
Tides and the organizations it supports interact closely with one another on a regular basis. For example, Drummond Pike sits on the Board of the Environmental Working Group along with David Fenton, founder of Fenton Communications.
The Tides Foundation is a member organization of the International Human Rights Funders Group, a network of more than six-dozen grantmakers dedicated to finaning leftwing groups and causes.
In 1979 the Tides Foundation created, with a $9 million seed grant, a separate but closely related entity called the Tides Center, also headed by Drummond Pike. The Tides Center functions as a legal firewall insulating the Tides Foundation from potential lawsuits filed by people whose livelihoods or well-being may be harmed by Foundation-funded projects. (These could be, for instance, farmers or loggers who are put out of business by Tides-backed environmentalist groups.) In theory the Foundation’s activities are restricted to fundraising and grant-making, while the Center focuses on managing projects and organizations; in practice, however, both entities do essentially the same thing.
The Tides Center’s Board Chairman is Wade Rathke, who is also a member of the Tides Foundation Board. Rathke, who serves as President of the New Orleans-based Local 100 of the Service Employees International Union, is the founder and chief organizer of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
One particularly notable donor to the Tides entities is Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Senator John Kerry. From 1994 to 2004, the Heinz Endowments, which Mrs. Kerry heads, gave the Tides Foundation and Center approximately $8.1 million in grants. Until February 2001, Mrs. Kerry also served as a trustee of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which has given Tides numerous six-figure grants.
Between 1993 and 2003, at least 91 foundations made grants to the Tides Foundation. These included the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Annie E. Casey Foundation; the Arca Foundation; the AT&T Foundation; the Barbra Streisand Foundation; the Bauman Family Foundation; Ben and Jerry’s Foundation; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the Blue Moon Fund; the Bullitt Foundation; the CarEth Foundation; the Carnegie Corporation of New York; Changemakers; the ChevronTexaco Foundation; the Columbia Foundation; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the Energy Foundation; the Fannie Mae Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the Foundation for Deep Ecology; the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; the Heinz Family Foundation; the Hoffman Foundation; the Homeland Foundation; the Howard Heinz Endowment; the J.M. Kaplan Fund; the James Irvine Foundation; the JEHT Foundation; the Jenifer Altman Foundation; the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; the Joyce Foundation; the Lear Family Foundation; the Liberty Hill Foundation; the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the Nathan Cummings Foundation; the New World Foundation; the Open Society Institute; the Pew Charitable Trusts; the Ploughshares Fund; the Proteus Fund; the Public Welfare Foundation; the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund; the Righteous Persons Foundation; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the Roberts Foundation; the Rockefeller Family Fund; the Rockefeller Foundation; the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy; the Stern Family Fund; the Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust; the Summit Charitable Foundation; the Surdna Foundation; the Threshold Foundation; the Turner Foundation; the Vanguard Public Foundation; the Verizon Foundation; the Vira I. Heinz Endowment; the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and the Woods Fund of Chicago.
Surprisingly, the Tides Foundation and Tides Center also receive grants from the U.S. federal government. Between 1997 and 2001, these grants included the following: $395,219 from the Department of Interior; $3,350,431 from the Environmental Protection Agency; $3,487,040 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development; $208,878 from the Department of Agriculture; $39,550 from the Department of Energy; $93,500 from the Small Business Administration; $10,986 from the Department of Health and Human Services; and $84,520 from the Centers for Disease Control U.S. Agency for International Development.