Common Cause Education Fund




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $7,302,501
Expenses: $6,762,886
Assets: $4,511,412




Karen Hobert Flynn

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The Common Cause Education Fund is the 501(c)(3) partner organization of Common Cause, an influential and controversial 501(c)(4) advocating for left-of-center causes headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Common Cause Education Fund exists to raise tax-deductible dollars from liberal donors and foundations that can be used to support the progressive policies of Common Cause.1

Most of the programming that the Common Cause Education Fund provides are in the form of published policy papers and reports about various liberal causes such as attacking business interests and supporting union-backed measures across the United States.2

History and Background

Common Cause was founded in 1970 by former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John Gardner, who had served in the Cabinet of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The group rose to prominence through its opposition of the Vietnam War and Gardner’s presence on President Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.”

Common Cause formed the Common Cause Education Fund as a 501(c)(3) arm to provide educational resources and publications on progressive policies.3

The current president of both Common Cause and the Common Cause Education Fund is Karen Hobert Flynn, who had served as the group’s state-level executive director in Connecticut. She first joined the group in 1985 as a national organizer and program director.4


The Common Cause Education Fund has an annual revenue of over $8.6 million. According to the most recent Annual Report available online, the following foundations have made grants to the Common Cause Education Fund:5

Arkay Foundation

Blueprint NC

Brett Family Foundation

The William C. Bullitt Foundation

Carnegie Corporation of New York

Cooke Foundation, Ltd.

Deer Creek Foundation

The Denver Foundation

Educational Foundation of America

Fund For Change

General Service Foundation

A.J. Fletcher Foundation

Ford Foundation

The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation

The Gay & Lesbian Fund of Colorado, a program of the Gill Foundation

Mertz Gilmore Foundation Hagedorn Foundation

Hawaii People’s Fund

Holthues Trust

The James Irvine Foundation

The Joyce Foundation

Justice At Stake

The Zanvyl and Isabelle Kreiger Fund

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

McCune Charitable Foundation

The Laffey McHugh Foundation

Midwest Democracy Network

McKenzie River Gathering

Newman’s Own Foundation

Oiste Civic Education Initiative, Inc.

Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation

Open Society Foundations

Park Foundation, Inc.

Partridge Foundation Piper Fund, a Proteus Fund initiative

Public Interest Projects

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Rockefeller Family & Associates

Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, Inc.

Murray and Agnes Seasongood

Good Government Foundation

The Sirus Fund

Jennifer & Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation

The Barbara Streisand Foundation

Thornburg Foundation

Threshold Foundation Tides Foundation

Yellow House Fund

Voqal Fund

Wallace Global Fund

Western Conservation Foundation

Woods Charitable Fund, Inc.

The Woodtiger Fund

Working Assets/CREDO

Key Issues and People

Both Common Cause and the Common Cause Education Fund take special focus on campaign finance reform and specifically opposition to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.6

The Chairman of the Board of both Common Cause and the Common Cause Education Fund is Robert Reich, who served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. The past three Presidents of both groups have been former Democratic politicians.7


  1. “2012-2013 Annual Report” Common Cause/Common Cause Education Fund. Accessed September 22, 2017.
  2. “Common Cause .” Discover the Networks. Accessed February 05, 2017.
  3. “Common Cause .” Discover the Networks. Accessed February 05, 2017.
  4. Report, Courant Staff. “Common Cause Taps Former Connecticut Director As National President.” June 13, 2016. Accessed February 05, 2017.
  5. 2012-2013 Annual Report Common Cause/Common Cause Education Fund.
  6. Blumenthal, Paul. “Here’s Where Campaign Finance Reform May Move Ahead As Congress Dithers.” The Huffington Post. Accessed February 05, 2017.
  7. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “Uncommon Hypocrisy: Common Cause claims to seek good government but prefers big government.” Capital Research Center. May 2014. Accessed February 05, 2017.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 2000

  • 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 $7,302,501 $6,762,886 $4,511,412 $305,236 N $7,157,336 $77,262 $11,851 $970,359
    2016 Jun Form 990 $8,656,799 $7,281,745 $3,607,086 $138,751 N $8,462,235 $98,000 $1,646 $864,097 PDF
    2015 Jun Form 990 $7,062,794 $7,112,534 $2,691,047 $510,653 N $6,983,087 $27,597 $23,189 $790,554
    2014 Jun Form 990 $5,498,633 $5,335,515 $2,305,187 $54,646 N $5,432,491 $38,279 $35,106 $397,781 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $5,566,464 $5,173,726 $2,400,932 $529,025 N $5,508,097 $82,113 $3,055 $312,845 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $4,732,977 $4,373,744 $2,206,040 $938,947 N $4,716,201 $15,500 $1,411 $176,561 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Common Cause Education Fund

    805 15TH ST NW STE 800
    WASHINGTON, DC 20005-2207