Consumer Reports (formerly Consumers Union)




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $249,432,203
Expenses: $247,549,271
Assets: $417,242,483

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This profile concerns the organization that publishes Consumer Reports magazine, formerly known as Consumers Union of the United States.

Consumer Reports is the parent organization of Consumer Reports magazine; it was formerly known as Consumers Union. In recent years, the magazine has simply operated under the name Consumer Reports and the organization that was Consumers Union was announced to have been rebranded into Consumer Reports Advocacy, which is part of Consumer Reports.1

Consumers Union was well known for publishing of product testing and research in the magazine and online, as well as lobbying for left-leaning consumer-product and environmental laws and regulations.2


Consumers Union and Consumer Reports magazine were founded in 1936 following a strike among employees at Consumers’ Research, another nonprofit consumer testing organization that was founded in 1929. The strike resulted in the head of the organization firing several of the strikers and describing them as communists. As a result, the strikers formed a new organization called Consumers Union and began publishing the magazine under the name Consumers Union Reports. Consumers Union changed the name of the magazine to Consumer Reports in 1942.3

The founding of Consumers Union was opposed by many magazine publishers with several outlets refusing to provide advertising space for the organization over its policy of criticizing products by name. Early products evaluated by the organization included milk, soap, breakfast cereal, credit unions, and Alka-Seltzer. In the 1950s and 1960s, Consumer Reports grew rapidly, as did its efforts around consumer advocacy including publishing criticism of the tobacco industry over the tar and nicotine content of cigarettes. During this period was when the organization began to ramp up its lobbying and advocacy efforts, which included staff and board members of the organization testifying on public policy issues including drug pricing and automobile safety. The organization also began providing funding to other consumer advocacy groups including American Council on Consumer Interests and Ralph Nader’s Center for Auto Safety. Nader eventually joined the board of Consumers Union.4


In 2018, Consumers Union abandoned the name Consumers Union, and rebranded as two organizations: Consumers Union Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) lobbying organization, Consumer Reports, a charitable organization that continued to publish the magazine of the same name.5


  1. “Consumers Union is now Consumer Reports Advocacy.” Public Citizen. Accessed April 18, 2021.
  2. “Our Work.” Consumer Reports Advocacy. Accessed April 18, 2021.
  3. “Consumers Union.” Accessed April 18, 2021.,the%20quality%20of%20life%20of
  4. Consumers Union.” Accessed April 18, 2021.,the%20quality%20of%20life%20of
  5. “Consumers Union is now Consumer Reports Advocacy.” Public Citizen. Accessed April 18, 2021.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Christopher Meyer
    Former Vice President of Advocacy (2004-2015)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: May - April
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 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 May Form 990 $249,432,203 $247,549,271 $417,242,483 $242,952,874 Y $35,414,377 $204,980,085 $1,177,057 $3,766,345 PDF
    2016 May Form 990 $255,381,909 $253,980,431 $407,246,855 $264,424,410 Y $31,491,507 $213,762,143 $427,319 $3,955,716 PDF
    2015 May Form 990 $264,463,443 $255,075,307 $427,740,422 $257,630,565 Y $31,333,906 $229,515,004 $617,398 $6,280,289 PDF
    2014 May Form 990 $269,263,647 $258,747,902 $419,900,241 $253,271,426 Y $30,449,815 $236,178,000 $450,215 $5,223,082 PDF
    2013 May Form 990 $259,291,725 $255,555,409 $381,407,574 $261,569,862 Y $25,458,990 $233,148,459 $178,572 $4,145,897 PDF
    2012 May Form 990 $263,268,350 $265,272,554 $335,920,076 $274,698,247 Y $22,294,281 $230,362,907 $3,389,184 $4,729,323 PDF
    2011 May Form 990 $254,156,290 $257,659,047 $361,611,492 $261,525,082 Y $20,068,201 $229,420,821 $4,280,928 $3,682,370 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Consumer Reports (formerly Consumers Union)

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