DonorsTrust is a Virginia-based donor-advised fund with assets of over $18 million in 2010. Associated with Donors Capital Fund, with which it shares an office, some staff, and a board of directors, the fund dispersed more than $22 million in grants in 2010, mostly to conservative groups around the country. Since 2002, DonorsTrust has administered more than $54 million in grants. (During the same period, Donors Capital Fund has administered more than $235 million in grants.) The trust, like all donor-advised funds, provides donors a degree of anonymity unavailable to foundations. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, “not even the IRS knows where a particular donor's money goes after it gets to Donors Trust.”
While DonorsTrust’s funders are a secret, Conservative Transparency has identified several donors by examining the tax forms of prominent foundations associated with conservative philanthropists. These funders include the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation ($1,000,000 in 2009 and $1,500,000 in 2010, respectively), the now-defunct John M. Olin Foundation (at least $1,056,000 since 2000), The Randolph Foundation (at least $1,052,200 since 2002), and the Searle Freedom Trust ($2.3 million since 2001). Several other prominent conservative foundations, including the William E. Simon, William H. Donner, and The Lynde and Harry Bradley foundations, have also given to DonorsTrust.
Most of grants dispersed by DonorsTrust go to conservative groups “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.” Recipients include the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (more than $10 million since 2005), the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (over $2.6 million since 2008), and the Independent Women's Forum (over $3 million since 2002). DonorsTrust has also dispersed large grants to the National Federation of Independent Business, NumbersUSA, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, George Mason University, and the Heartland Institute. (Many of these same groups have received sizeable contributions from Donors Capital Fund.)
DonorsTrust says it also works to “encourage philanthropy and individual giving and responsibility, as opposed to governmental involvement, as an answer to society's needs.”
The fund’s board of directors includes prominent members of the conservative establishment, including American Enterprise Institute president Arthur C. Brooks and Heritage Foundation fellow John Von Kannon. The presidents of both the William E. Simon and Searle Freedom Trust also sit on the board of directors. Whitney L. Ball, former executive director of the Philanthropy Roundtable, is the fund’s chief executive. (Ball also sits on the board of directors of Donors Capital Fund alongside Adam Meyerson, the current president of the Philanthropy Roundtable.)
DonorsTrust is the parent of the Project on Fair Representation, which works against affirmative action, as well as the Student Free Press Association, which places young conservative writers in fellowships with conservative publications, including the Daily Caller, the Weekly Standard, and the Washington Times.
See a list of DonorsTrust's grants here.