Non-profit

Musk Foundation

Website:

www.muskfoundation.org

Location:

PALO ALTO, CA

Tax ID:

77-0587507

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)-PF

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $600,158
Expenses: $582,908
Assets: $57,371

Type:

Private Foundation

Formation:

ca. 2002

Primary Funder and President:

Elon Musk

The Musk Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation founded in 2002 by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk and his brother, Kimbal. [1] The brothers are the foundation’s sole officers; Elon Musk is president and board director and Kimbal Musk is secretary, treasurer, and board director. [2]

According to its website, the Musk Foundation makes grants in support of five areas, some of which intersect with Musk’s business ventures: “renewable energy research and advocacy,” “human space exploration research and advocacy,” “pediatric research,” “science and engineering education,” and “development of safe artificial intelligence to benefit humanity. [3] Charitable recipients of Musk Foundation grants include international aid nonprofits such as Doctors Without Borders, healthcare organizations such as World Spine Care, and the co-educational Mirman School for Gifted Children.[4]

Funding

Also see Elon Musk

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is the sole funder of the Musk Foundation, and has donated at least $257 million to the organization. [5]

In 2016, Musk donated 1.2 million shares of Tesla stock, worth $254,614,000 at the time, to the Foundation. [6] Drew Millard of the Outline wrote in 2018 that the timing of the donation allowed Musk to avoid taxes and to avoid ceding shares to his second wife, who filed for divorce in the spring of 2016. [7]

According to its website, the Musk Foundation makes grants in support of four areas: “renewable energy research and advocacy;” “human space exploration research and advocacy;” “pediatric research;” and “science and engineering education.” [8]

Grant Recipients

Non-Advocacy Contributions

The Foundation has donated to non-political causes, including $480,000 in grants for water filtration in Flint, Michigan and $424,000 to supply laptop computers to Flint middle-schools.[9] Other recipients of Musk Foundation grants include international aid nonprofits such as Doctors Without Borders, which was given $100,000 in 2012 alone, healthcare organizations such as World Spine Care, and the co-educational Mirman School for Gifted Children. [10] [11]

Artists for Peace and Justice, which helps disadvantaged people internationally through education, and Haitian Relief Organization—which helped with recovery in Haiti after a tsunami struck that nation—received funding from the Musk Foundation in 2011. Artists for Peace and Justice received $129,708. Haitian Relief Organization received $61,370. [12] [13]

Advocacy Contributions

The Musk Foundation supports organizations which push a left-of-center agenda, particularly environmentalist organizations.

Global Green has received multiple donations, including one worth $45,980 in 2007. The Sierra Club Foundation received $250,000 in 2014. [14] Other recipients of Musk Foundation grants include the National Wildlife Federation; the funding and fiscal sponsorship group New Venture Fund; Energy Foundation; Oxfam America; Oceana; the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation; the Tides Center; and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). [15] [16] [17]

Other explicitly left-wing organizations which have received funding are the William J. Clinton Foundation, People for the American Way Foundation, and Transgender Law Center. All received funding in 2011 totaling $19,200, $7,200, and $2,500, respectively. [18] [19]

The Musk Foundation has made small contributions to a handful of right-of-center nonprofits. The libertarian think tank Cato Institute received $5,000 in 2007.[20] In 2005, Citizens Against Government Waste received a $10,000 grant; National Taxpayers Union received $2,500 in the same year. [21]

Grant Controversies

Some of the Musk Foundation’s donations have generated controversy. Its 2016 IRS filing (Form 990) shows that its largest donation that year was $37,798,322 and went to donor-advised fund provider Vanguard Charities. [22] Nonprofit Quarterly editor-in-chief Ruth McCambridge criticized the donation because of the lack of payout and transparency regulations related to donor-advised fund providers. [23]

The left-leaning newspaper the Guardian conducted a thorough examination of the Foundation’s donations in a January 2019 profile. [24] Their investigation found that the Foundation frequently donated to charities in which Musk’s family and/or his companies have financial and other interests. The article clarified that none of the payments were illegal, and cited charity experts who said that many were within charitable norms. [25]

Officers

Elon Musk is president of the Musk Foundation. His brother, Kimbal Musk, is secretary and treasurer. They received no compensation from the Foundation in 2016. [26]

References

  1. WIRED. “Elon’s Empire: The Sprawling, Intertwining Web of Elon Musk’s Vested Interests.” WIRED. June 07, 2017. Accessed May 30, 2018. http://www.wired.co.uk/article/elon-musk-tesla-spacex-empire.
  2. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF). Musk Foundation. 2015. Part VIII, Line 1.
  3. “Musk Foundation.” Accessed May 30, 2018. http://www.muskfoundation.org/.
  4. “Grant Visualizer: Musk Foundation.” Foundation Search. Accessed May 30, 2018. www.foundationsearch.com.
  5. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF). Musk Foundation (2016). Schedule B Part 1 line 1; 2015, Schedule B Part 1 line 1; 2014, Schedule B Part 1 line 1; 2013, Schedule B Part 1 line 1; 2012, Schedule B Part 1 line 1
  6. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF). Musk Foundation (2015). Musk Foundation, 2015 990, Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5684176-2015-990.html
  7. Drew Millard. “Why did Elon Musk stash a quarter-billion dollars of Tesla stock in a non-profit back in 2016?” The Outline. August 5, 2018. Accessed February 21, 2019. https://theoutline.com/post/5707/elon-musk-has-a-quarter-billion-dollars-of-tesla-shares-parked-in-a-non-profit
  8. “Musk Foundation.” Accessed May 30, 2018. http://www.muskfoundation.org/.
  9. The Associated Press,. “Flint students getting laptops thanks to Musk Foundation,.” December 21, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.apnews.com/0375b52ee079460d8f1bb29799545a8d
  10. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Musk Foundation (2012), 2012 990,. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5684173-2012-990.html
  11. “Grant Visualizer: Musk Foundation.” Foundation Search. Accessed May 30, 2018. www.foundationsearch.com.
  12. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Musk Foundation (2012). Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5684173-2012-990.html
  13. Musk Foundation, 2011 990, Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5684172-2011-990.html
  14. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Musk Foundation (2012). Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5684173-2012-990.html
  15. “Musk Foundation: Grants.” Citizen Audit. Accessed May 30, 2018. https://www.citizenaudit.org/organization/770587507.
  16. “Grant Visualizer: Musk Foundation.” Foundation Search. Accessed May 30, 2018. www.foundationsearch.com.
  17. Save the Children, Search term “abortion.” Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.savethechildren.org/us/search-results?googlecse=abortion#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=abortion&gsc.page=1
  18. Musk Foundation: Grants. Citizen Audit. Accessed May 30, 2018. https://www.citizenaudit.org/organization/770587507.
  19. “Grant Visualizer: Musk Foundation.” Foundation Search. Accessed May 30, 2018. www.foundationsearch.com.
  20. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Musk Foundation (2012). Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5684173-2012-990.html
  21. Musk Foundation, 2005 990, Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5684181-2005-990.html
  22. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Musk Foundation (2012). Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5684173-2012-990.html
  23. Ruth McCambridge, “Elon Musk’s foundation gives $37.8 million to donor-advised fund,” January 31, 2019. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2019/01/31/elon-musks-foundation-gives-37-8m-to-donor-advised-fund/
  24. Mark Harris. “How Elon Musk’s secretive foundation hands out his billions.” The Guardian. January 23, 2019. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/23/how-elon-musks-secretive-foundation-benefits-his-own-family
  25. Mark Harris,. “How Elon Musk’s secretive foundation hands out his billions,.” The Guardian. January 23, 2019. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/23/how-elon-musks-secretive-foundation-benefits-his-own-family
  26. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF). Musk Foundation, Return of a Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), (2016),. Part VIII.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Elon Musk
    President and Primary Funder
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 2002

  • 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
    2015 Jun Form PF $600,158 $582,908 $57,371 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Jun Form PF $1,300,152 $1,310,348 $40,121 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Jun Form PF $650,244 $804,152 $50,317 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Jun Form PF $618,657 $851,564 $204,225 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Jun Form PF $314,085 $876,448 $437,132 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Musk Foundation

    PO BOX 10195 DEPT 863
    PALO ALTO, CA 94303-0995