American Rivers




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $21,865,742
Expenses: $14,465,768
Assets: $20,388,283

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American Rivers is an environmentalist organization based in Washington, D.C. that focuses on rivers and other water-protection issues. It pushes for new government regulations and restrictions to protect rivers from pollution. The group also pushes for the demolition of dams which it deems obsolete.

The organization reports a budget of $24 million. The organization is also a recipient of federal grants and receives donations from numerous private foundations and many left-of-center groups.


American Rivers opposes most hydroelectric dams. It views the dams as obsolete and responsible for extinction of many species. It is also skeptical of the value of hydroelectric power and is generally opposed to any new dams. 1

The organization is also an opponent of natural gas exploration through hydraulic fracking. It claims that fracking leads to pollution of surface and groundwater, leads to the displacement of wildlife, and turns rivers into industrial sites. It also claims that gas exploration leads to the pollution of drinking water. The organization raises money to buy the leases from energy companies and lobbies regulatory bodies to deny permits for oil and gas exploration. 2

The organization also makes a list of what it calls the most endangered rivers in America. The organization began issuing the report in 1984. It gathers the suggestions of other environmentalist groups and uses the report to lobby government agencies into taking regulatory and legislative actions that protect those rivers. 3

The organization also works to protect rivers against the effects of climate change, arguing that global warming will increase storms which will increase flooding and put water quality at risk. It supports revitalizing water infrastructure and restoring natural defenses such as wetlands and forests. It also believes that climate change will decrease precipitation which will threaten the water supplies of more arid regions of the country. Finally, it believes that increased storms will increase runoff from cities and other built up areas which threatens water quality. 4


Bob Irvin serves as the president and CEO of American Rivers. He has held the position since July 2011. Before joining American Rivers, Irvin was the senior vice president for conservation programs at Defenders of Wildlife. Before that he was the director of U.S. conservation for the World Wildlife Fund. He also served as a U.S. Senate staffer and worked as a trial attorney in the civil division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He is on the board of directors of the Environmental Law Institute. 5


Since its founding in 1973, the organization has received $1.2 billion in federal grants to fund various projects. 6

In 2019, the organization raised $22.1 million and spent $24 million. Its largest expenditure was $13 million to support river restoration efforts. It spent $3.7 million to support its anti-hydroelectricity programs. It spent $1.9 million on its clean water programs. 7

Notable contributors to American Rivers include the left-of-center Charles Stewart Mott Foundation,8 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation,9 New Venture Fund,10 Foundation for the Carolinas,11 and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. 12 The group itself makes numerous grants to outside left-progressive and environmentalist organizations, including PolicyLink, National Audubon Society, and Trout Unlimited. 13


  1.            “Is Hydropower “Clean Energy””. 2020. American Rivers. Accessed August 3.
  2.      “Fracking, Oil And Gas Development”. 2020. American Rivers. Accessed August 3.
  3. “About America’s Most Endangered Rivers® Campaign”. 2020. American Rivers. Accessed August 3.
  4. “The Impacts Of Climate Change On Rivers”. 2020. American Rivers. Accessed August 3.
  5.   Bob Irvin”. 2020. American Rivers. Accessed August 3.
  6. “American Rivers”. 2020. Philanthropy News Digest (PND). Accessed August 3.
  7. 2019 Form 990. 2019. Ebook.
  8. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Return of a Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2018, Part XV Line 3
  9. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Schedule I
  10. New Venture Fund, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Schedule I
  11. Foundation for the Carolinas, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Schedule I
  12. William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Return of a Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2018, Part XV Line 3
  13. American Rivers, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Schedule I
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1984

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Jun Form 990 $21,865,742 $14,465,768 $20,388,283 $3,044,911 N $20,917,852 $362,431 $48,091 $860,947
    2016 Jun Form 990 $11,507,578 $14,134,738 $12,463,482 $2,680,544 N $11,219,566 $0 $56,013 $842,603 PDF
    2015 Jun Form 990 $15,444,339 $13,536,535 $14,578,386 $2,229,508 N $15,196,593 $0 $44,364 $559,539
    2014 Jun Form 990 $13,156,638 $12,667,725 $11,850,766 $1,339,604 N $12,883,798 $0 $45,231 $565,501 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $13,734,850 $13,948,595 $11,094,571 $1,269,225 N $13,548,633 $0 $47,066 $670,930 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $12,667,785 $13,113,147 $11,201,089 $1,268,781 N $12,453,512 $0 $48,604 $532,120 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    American Rivers

    1101 14TH STREET NW1400
    WASHINGTON, DC 20005-5601