Arlington, VA

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2021):

Revenue: $1,094,663,581
Expenses: $191,858,622
Assets: $1,504,903,651


Lawson Bader




Donor-Advised Fund

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

DonorsTrust is a donor-advised fund that gives to right-leaning public policy organizations. An affiliated fund, the Donors Capital Fund, offers more support to donors who contribute more than $1 million to the fund.


DonorsTrust is a donor-advised fund that donates to right-leaning public policy organizations. The fund was created in 1999 by Whitney Ball, formerly the executive director of the Philanthropy Roundtable and director of development for the Cato Institute. Since 2015, DonorsTrust has been headed by Lawson Bader, formerly the president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. 1

The fund offers donors anonymity in donation and has no restrictions on the organizations they support as long as the organizations are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entities. In a 2020 post, DonorsTrust president Lawson Bader stated that the fund supports “the right of an individual to use resources to support a legitimate and legal not-for-profit public charity that is serving a purpose for which that individual agrees.” 2

In 2016, Bader told James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley that many contributors to DonorsTrust are “older philanthropists, especially conservative or libertarian ones” who “have grown disillusioned with foundations. They tend to drift from the original intent to causes that are contrary to desire of the founder.” Piereson and Riley noted that “all DonorsTrust accounts sunset over time, which means they will not be available for future generations to redirect.” 3

In an interview with author David Callahan, Bader said that DonorsTrust’s commitment to donor intent made his fund an attractive vehicle for contributors. “There are clients of ours who may love their kids. But perhaps the client and the kids differ in terms of political philosophy, or institutional support.” 4 Callahan says DonorsTrust’s role is to serve “as a matchmaker between the many groups on the right looking for funding and the funders who have a stash at DonorsTrust.” 5

In December 2015, during an investigation by Greenpeace, undercover investigators approached then-director of growth strategies at DonorsTrust Peter Lipsett and asked if the group would ever accept donations from a fictional Middle East-based oil and gas company. He responded by claiming that even though DonorsTrust requires donations to originate from a U.S bank account, “we can take it from a foreign body, it’s just we have to be extra cautious with that.” 6 He further noted in a taped conversation that, 7

“We only accept donations in U.S. currency and drawn from U.S. banks. DonorsTrust has never accepted secret donations from foreign donors. We have supported over 1,500 organizations representing the arts, medicine and science, public policy, education, religion, and civics. We are no more a “middle man” between donors and their causes than any other community or commercial donor-advised fund sponsoring organization.” 8

Affiliates and Projects

Donors Capital Fund

Donors Capital Fund is a supporting organization that is separate from, but affiliated with, DonorsTrust. The fund says it provides “personalized philanthropic services and specialized asset management” for clients with assets of more than a million dollars in their accounts. 9

Novus Society

The Novus Society is a project of DonorsTrust for donors under age 40. The Society offers new philanthropists the ability to open an account with $1,000 and programs that connect younger donors with older ones and to meet other young donors. 10

Project Veritas

In 2017 the Washington Post reported that in 2016 DonorsTrust contributed $1.7 million to the conservative advocacy group Project Veritas, and that these donations amounted to over one-third of the group’s $4.6 million budget. DonorsTrust donated $1.5 million to Project Veritas in 2015. 11

In 2020, Lawson Bader stated, “for the last eighteen months, we have been subject to hostile emails, critical floor statements from Senators and members of the House, in-depth media coverage, and threatened Congressional investigations” because of grants made to Project Veritas. Bader said Project Veritas’s goal of “embarrassing politicians or highlighting the hypocrisy among political parties and its platforms does not make friends, especially those in powerful positions.” 12


In 2021, the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), using documents provided by the left-wing Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), reported that DonorsTrust contributed $1.5 million of the controversial anti-immigrant advocacy group VDare’s budget in 2019, which, according to VDare’s  tax returns, enabled the group to increase its budget from $700,000 in 2018 to $4.3 million in 2019. Lawson Bader responded with an email stating, “We support philanthropic freedom and protect donor intent without taking policy positions. Of the policy groups that our accountholders support, many have competing purposes and mission, such as the Family Research Council and the Sex Workers Educational Foundation.” 13


In 2019, DonorsTrust made grants of over $1 million to 27 organizations, including two which received two seven-figure grants.  This table lists the organizations and the total amount granted to each nonprofit:

• Acton Institute – $1.1 million

• American Friends of Start-Up Nation Central – $1 million

• Catholic Association Foundation – $6.2 million

• CERGE-El Foundation – $3.5 million

• Certell – $1.8 million

• Daniel Morgan Academy – $2.8 million

• Discovery Institute – $2.0 million

• 85 Fund – $10.8 million

• Federalist Society $7.0 million

• Foundation for Government Accountability – $2.1 million

• Foundation for Jewish Camp – $1 million

• George Mason University Foundation – $6.8 million

• Government Accountability Institute – $1 million

• Greater Education Opportunities Foundation – $1 million

• Heartland Institute – $2.1 million

• Hillsdale College – $1 million

• Job Creators Network Foundation – $1.3 million

• King’s Academy – $3.5 million

• King’s College – $2.1 million

• Legacy Foundation – $1.5 million

• Lucy Burns Institute – $2.8 million

• Mackinac Center for Public Policy – $2.3 million

• Middle East Forum – $2.1 million

• Project Veritas – $4.1 million

• Redeem New York – $1.4 million

• State Policy Network – $9.2 million

• Wyoming Liberty Group – $1.4 million

Among the nonprofits DonorsTrust gave smaller sums to in 2019 were the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Leader Dogs for the Blind, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and the foundations affiliated with Rice University, the University of California Los Angeles, Vanderbilt University and Yale University. 14


  1. Donors Trust, “Who We Are,” (accessed October 10, 2022.
  2. Lawson Bader, “Donor Disclosure Is Code for Donor-Based Discrimination,” DonorsTrust, September 24, 2020, (accessed October 10, 2022)
  3. James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley, “Giving Back Isn’t Only for Billionaires,” Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2016.
  4. David Callahan, The Givers:  Money, Power, and Philanthropy in A New Gilded Age (New York:  Knopf, 2018), 204
  5. David Callahan, The Givers: Money, Power, and Philanthropy in A New Gilded Age (New York:  Knopf, 2018), 205.
  6. “DonorsTrust.” DeSmog, Accessed April 29, 2024.
  7. “DonorsTrust.” DeSmog, Accessed April 29, 2024.
  8. “DonorsTrust.” DeSmog, Accessed April 29, 2024.
  9. Donors Capital Fund, “Overview,”  (accessed October 10, 2022).
  10. Novus Society, “About Us,” (accessed October 10, 2022)
  11. Robert O’Harrow, “Project Veritas Received $1.7M Last Year from Charity Tied to Kochs,” Washington Post, December 3, 2017.
  12. Lawson Bader, “Donor Disclosure Is Code for Donor-Based Discrimination,20,” DonorsTrust, September 26, 2020, (accessed October 10, 2022).
  13. Alex Kotch and Michael Edison Hayden, “Donors Pumped Millions Into White Nationalist Group<” Southern Poverty Law Center, June 17, 2021, (accessed October 10, 20212)
  14. 2019 DonorsTrust form 990.

Associated Organizations

  1. Donors Capital Fund (Non-profit)

Donation Recipients

  1. Acton Institute (Non-profit)
  2. Alabama Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  3. Alaska Policy Forum (Non-profit)
  4. American Affairs Foundation (AAF) (Non-profit)
  5. American Commitment (Non-profit)
  6. American Conservative Union (ACU) Foundation (Non-profit)
  7. American Juris Link (Non-profit)
  8. American Stewards of Liberty (Non-profit)
  9. American Transparency (Non-profit)
  10. Americans for Fair Treatment (Non-profit)
  11. Americans United for Life (AUL) (Non-profit)
  12. Beacon Hill Institute (Non-profit)
  13. Buckeye Institute (Non-profit)
  14. Center for Individual Rights (Non-profit)
  15. Central Fund of Israel (CFI) (Non-profit)
  16. Certell Inc. (Non-profit)
  17. (Non-profit)
  18. Civitas Institute (Non-profit)
  19. Club for Growth Foundation (CFG Foundation) (Non-profit)
  20. Commentary Inc. (Non-profit)
  21. Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) (Non-profit)
  22. Constituting America (Non-profit)
  23. David Horowitz Freedom Center (Non-profit)
  24. Discovery Institute (Non-profit)
  25. E Pluribus Unum Films (Non-profit)
  26. Empire Center for Public Policy (Non-profit)
  27. Encounter for Culture and Education (Non-profit)
  28. Family Research Council (FRC) (Non-profit)
  29. Foundation for Constitutional Government (FCG) (Non-profit)
  30. Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) (Non-profit)
  31. Franklin News Network (Non-profit)
  32. Free the People (Non-profit)
  33. Freedom Alliance (Non-profit)
  34. Friends of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress (Friends of ICSEP) (Non-profit)
  35. Galen Institute (Non-profit)
  36. Garden State Initiative (Non-profit)
  37. Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research (Non-profit)
  38. Government Accountability Institute (Non-profit)
  39. Grassroot Institute of Hawaii (Non-profit)
  40. Human Coalition (Non-profit)
  41. Independence Institute (Non-profit)
  42. Independent Institute (Non-profit)
  43. Intellectual Takeout (Non-profit)
  44. Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS) (Non-profit)
  45. Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ) (Non-profit)
  46. Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) (Non-profit)
  47. Leadership Program of the Rockies (Non-profit)
  48. Libertas Institute (Non-profit)
  49. Lincoln Network (Non-profit)
  50. Lucy Burns Institute (Non-profit)
  51. Maine Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  52. Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (Non-profit)
  53. Marijuana Policy Project Foundation (MPP Foundation) (Non-profit)
  54. Market Research Foundation (Non-profit)
  55. Middle East Forum (MEF) (Non-profit)
  56. Minding the Campus (Non-profit)
  57. Mises Institute (Ludwig von Mises Institute for Austrian Economics) (Non-profit)
  58. Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (MVLA) (Non-profit)
  59. Moving Pictures Institute (Other Group)
  60. National Association of Scholars (NAS) (Non-profit)
  61. National Right to Life Committee Educational Trust Fund (Non-profit)
  62. Network of enlightened Women (NeW) (Non-profit)
  63. Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (Non-profit)
  64. Pacific Justice Institute (Non-profit)
  65. Peace Through Commerce (Non-profit)
  66. Pelican Institute for Public Policy (Non-profit)
  67. People United for Privacy Foundation (PUPF) (Non-profit)
  68. Philadelphia Society (Non-profit)
  69. Philanthropy Roundtable (Non-profit)
  70. Platte Institute for Economic Research (Non-profit)
  71. Pro-Life Action League (Non-profit)
  72. Project on Fair Representation (Non-profit)
  73. Property and Environment Research Center (Non-profit)
  74. Reason Foundation (Non-profit)
  75. Rio Grande Foundation (Non-profit)
  76. Sagamore Institute (Non-profit)
  77. Spark Freedom (Non-profit)
  78. Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) (Non-profit)
  79. Students For Liberty (Non-profit)
  80. Students for Life of America (SFLA) (Non-profit)
  81. Success Academy Charter Schools (SA) (Non-profit)
  82. Tax Foundation (Non-profit)
  83. The American Commitment Foundation (Non-profit)
  84. The Atlas Society (Non-profit)
  85. The Center for Union Facts (CUF) (Non-profit)
  86. The College Fix (Non-profit)
  87. The Educational Media Foundation (EMF) (Non-profit)
  88. The Employment Policies Institute (EPI) (Non-profit)
  89. The Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) (Non-profit)
  90. The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) (Non-profit)
  91. The Fund for American Studies (Non-profit)
  92. The Henry Jackson Society (HJS) (Non-profit)
  93. The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) (Non-profit)
  94. The Institute for Humane Studies (Non-profit)
  95. The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) (Non-profit)
  96. The Institute on Religion and Democracy (Non-profit)
  97. The Invest in Education Foundation (Non-profit)
  98. The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) (Non-profit)
  99. The New Civil Liberties Alliance (Non-profit)
  100. The Policy Circle (Non-profit)
  101. The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal (Non-profit)
  102. The South Carolina Policy Council (SCPC) (Non-profit)
  103. Washington Policy Center (Non-profit)
  104. Yankee Institute for Public Policy (Non-profit)
  105. Young Americans for Liberty Foundation (YALF) (Non-profit)
  106. Young America’s Foundation (Non-profit)
  107. Zephyr Institute (Non-profit)
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1999

  • 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
    2021 Dec Form 990 $1,094,663,581 $191,858,622 $1,504,903,651 $25,905 N $1,081,035,499 $0 $9,072,871 $1,013,515
    2020 Dec Form 990 $360,225,715 $185,809,701 $607,685,575 $388,911 N $354,640,056 $0 $6,731,143 $999,486
    2019 Dec Form 990 $323,972,530 $166,210,531 $422,598,433 $306,800 N $311,778,812 $0 $11,005,457 $904,068 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $202,776,626 $144,780,322 $245,089,711 $377,213 N $198,199,637 $0 $4,111,354 $594,684 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $112,961,835 $112,781,795 $211,057,394 $628,099 N $110,305,253 $0 $1,869,366 $720,835 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $92,583,255 $68,618,357 $188,048,966 $583,741 N $89,187,534 $330 $2,746,041 $560,696 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $85,527,056 $69,779,064 $167,942,067 $125,000 N $83,121,978 $476,615 $1,055,284 $437,278 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $67,869,616 $58,239,511 $141,924,343 $1,533,581 N $65,582,036 $645,506 $459,577 $485,782 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $104,533,200 $39,689,582 $102,089,508 $12,901 N $103,380,831 $726,430 $270,233 $447,425 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $47,559,207 $43,106,986 $30,679,673 $65,542 N $45,908,735 $767,884 $203,303 $420,750 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $40,127,442 $32,164,867 $26,128,041 $110,372 N $39,267,594 $774,254 $206,988 $378,443 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $29,567,627 $25,065,327 $18,409,511 $14,401 N $28,998,795 $420,789 $80,800 $317,564 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)


    1800 Diagonal Road #280
    Arlington, VA 22324