Non-profit

New Venture Fund (NVF)

Website:

www.newventurefund.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

20-5806345

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $357,581,316
Expenses: $264,546,947
Assets: $364,305,889

Formation:

October 2006

Tax-Exemption Received January 2007

Formerly:

Arabella Legacy Fund (2006-2009)

Board Chair:

Eric Kessler

President:

Lee Bodner

Eric Kessler (2006-2015)

Managed By:

Arabella Advisors

The New Venture Fund (NVF) is a 501(c)(3) funding and fiscal sponsorship nonprofit that makes grants to left-of-center advocacy and organizing projects and provides incubation serves for other left-of-center organizations. The fund focuses primarily on social and environmental change, issuing grants for a variety of projects that include conservation, global health, disaster recovery, education, and the arts. [1]

Critics argue that New Venture Fund is a “dark money” organization, serving as a way for left-leaning groups to anonymously funnel money toward various advocacy issues, such as attacking vulnerable Republicans or pushing state-level environmental restrictions. [2]

NVF often operates alongside its 501(c)(4) “sister” nonprofit Sixteen Thirty Fund, which provides similar funding and fiscal sponsorship services to center-left advocacy organizations. Both groups are administered by Arabella Advisors, a Washington, D.C.-based philanthropy consulting firm that caters to left-leaning clients. New Venture Fund’s board of directors includes officers from Arabella Advisors, including the firm’s principal Eric Kessler.

The Hopewell Fund and Windward Fund are also 501(c)(3) nonprofits managed by Arabella Advisors that work closely with NVF and Sixteen Thirty Fund.

Background

Creation

Also see Eric Kessler

The New Venture Fund was created on October 25, 2006 in the District of Columbia as the Arabella Legacy Fund; the 501(c)(3) nonprofit received IRS recognition of its tax exemption in January 2007. In October 2009, the Arabella Legacy Fund was officially renamed the New Venture Fund. [3]

At the time of its formation, Eric Kessler served as president of the Fund. Kessler is the founder and senior managing partner of Arabella Advisors, a philanthropy consulting firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Fund’s founding board of directors in 2006-2007 consisted of Kessler, then-Illinois Nature Conservancy executive director Bruce Boyd, and then-Western Conservation Foundation executive director Adam Eichberg. [4]

NVF was created with grants from an unknown source totaling $3.725 million. From the start, it also had an administrative services agreement with Arabella Advisors (then Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors) to provide management and consulting services to the NVF. According to its description of activities, the NVF was created to pursue two purposes: [5]

[F]irst, it will engage in a program dedicated to protecting and preserving the environment from the detrimental effects of off-road vehicle use; second, it will engage in a program dedicated to the American Christian Evangelical environmental community, building a grassroots movement of Evangelicals and educating the American public regarding the Evangelical environmental message.

The NVF’s founding document further quotes three Psalms from the Bible in support of advancing an environmentalist agenda. The NVF also explained in the document its intent to provide an “Environmental Toolkit for Pastors”: [6]

The Environmental Toolkit for Pastors will be designed to enable Pastors to integrate creation-care teaching into their ministry. An important part of [the] Pastor’s toolkit will be materials for worship services that will celebrate all of God’s creation and explore how mankind can be better stewards of the His [sic] creation, including suggestions for hymns (including processional, worship and offertory hymns and hymns of commitment), invocations, New and Old Testament lessons, responsive readings and sermon outlines (or “seeds” whereby Pastors can create their own sermons).

Worship materials will be created for various topics, including global warming, air and water pollution, endangered species and the environment’s effect on human health . . . . In addition, the Pastor’s toolkit will include materials . . . to educate Pastors regarding creation care’s basis in Scripture, as well as fact sheets for Pastors and their congregations on various environmental topics and suggestions for how congregations can take action to care for God’s creation.

Initiatives

The New Venture Fund claims it has sponsored over 280 projects since its inception in 2006 touching a broad range of center-left issues. [7]

Allied Progress

Also see Allied Progress (Nonprofit)

In 2015, Allied Progress was formed using money from New Venture Fund to push for Congress not to overturn the country’s ban on crude oil exports. Allied Progress ran an advertisement campaign in Colorado, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, and New Mexico, urging voters to tell their senators they wanted to keep the ban. [8] Allied Progress Action is the sister to Allied Progress, and a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

Education

New Venture Fund gave about $4 million to a failed Mississippi initiative in 2015 that would have given state judges power over school issues, including increased education spending. [9]

In a report over the National Education Association’s $138 million in spending in the 2016 fiscal year, Dropout Nation, an education reform website, pointed out the national teachers union gave $62,657 to New Venture Fund and $550,000 to Sixteen Thirty Fund, an endowment developed by Arabella Advisors. [10] Eric Kessler, the president and board chairman of New Venture Fund, also founded Arabella Advisors. [11]

Campaign for Accountability

Also see Campaign for Accountability (Nonprofit)

SiliconBeat reported that New Venture Fund was behind Campaign for Accountability, which did extensive research into Google’s relationship with the Obama White House and created the Google Accountability Project, a website that pointed out the tech giant’s heavy influence with the Obama administration. [12] The publication noted that New Venture Fund has received financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($94 million between 2014 and 2016) and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation ($17 million during that period.)[13]

Funding

Financial Overview

In 2017, the New Venture Fund reported revenues of $358,858,641, expenditures of $329,784,536, and net assets of $339,217,644. [14]

In 2016, the New Venture Fund reported revenues of $357,581,316, expenditures of $264,546,947, and net assets of $93,034,369. [15]

An overview of the New Venture Fund’s total revenues, total expenditures, grants paid, and net assets for 2006 to 2017 is available below: [16]

New Venture Fund: Financial Overview
Total RevenuesAnnual Change
2006$545,100
2007$1,663,363205%
2008$6,011,782261%
2009$26,812,567346%
2010$16,813,261(37%)
2011$36,542,348117%
2012$52,519,09944%
2013$112,942,320115%
2014$179,424,94559%
2015$318,405,05677%
2016$357,581,31612%
2017$358,858,6410.4%
Total:$1,468,119,798
Total ExpendituresGrants Paid
2006$40,399$0
2007$1,315,615$10,000
2008$3,983,417$2,172,460
2009$13,847,145$3,206,141
2010$14,893,390$4,105,145
2011$24,722,363$9,217,867
2012$39,574,786$17,076,406
2013$74,982,490$29,520,729
2014$134,487,602$56,602,126
2015$214,351,188$87,322,893
2016$264,546,947$114,285,885
2017$329,784,536$154,740,778
Total:$1,116,529,878$478,260,430
Net Assets
2006$504,701
2007$852,449
2008$2,881,343
2009$16,229,856
2010$18,149,727
2011$29,969,712
2012$42,914,025
2013$80,873,855
2014$125,811,198
2015$230,092,075
2016$321,816,285
2017$339,217,644

Grant Recipients

New Venture Fund reports providing grants for health and environmental issues on every populated continent on its 2015 IRS Form 990 tax filing. [17] Domestic recipients of New Venture Fund grants listed on the form include Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Sierra Club Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Equality Virginia, and Feminist Majority Foundation. [18]

Contractors

From 2007 to 2017, New Venture Fund reported contractor expenditures totaling $142,937,638. Of this, $68.2 million was paid to its management firm, Arabella Advisors. A list of all contractor, consulting, and management fees paid by the New Venture Fund between 2007 and 2017 is listed below. [19]

New Venture Fund: Contractor FeesTotal (2007-2017)
Sum$142,717,065
Arabella Advisors$68,220,330
Tigercomm LLC$2,20,573
Purpose Campaigns LLC$17,796,644
Bullpen Integrated Marketing LLC$11,915,145
DCI Group AZ LLC$8,325,682
International Scholarship and Tuition SE$6,896,527
SKDKnickerbocker$3,020,363
Shepardson Stern & Kaminsky$2,887,402
GMMB Inc.$2,773,957
Hilltop Public Solutions$2,499,822
270 Strategies Inc$2,162,386
Williamsworks$1,851,281
Home Front Communications$1,816,689
PBJS$1,718,448
Global Flight Relief$1,516,838
S&B Public Solutions LLC$1,232,689
STTEP International$1,088,196
Fair Elections Legal Network$1,087,425
Ional Media Research Plan and Placement$997,787
Group Inc.$970,000
Ridgeback USA$659,998
Turly Pictures$638,729
Parthenon Group$605,000
Tempus Jets$586,248
Global Health Strategies$475,203
Spitfire Strategies$405,153
Restone Strategy Group LLC$400,000
Ziemba Waid Public Affairs$114,623
Izaak Walton League of America Inc.$54,500

Leadership

President

Lee Bodner serves as New Venture Fund’s president, after previously serving as managing director of Arabella Advisors. [20] He was founding executive director of ecoAmerica, a nonprofit focusing on educating the American public on conservation issues. While there, Bodner helped launch the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which brought the climate change issue front and center in higher education. [21] The most recent IRS filing (Form 990) from 2017 for the New Venture Fund listed Bodner’s salary as $225,000.

Eric Kessler serves as chairman of the board of directors. He founded and serves as senior managing director of Arabella Advisors, a social venture firm working to increase the effectiveness of philanthropy that works in conjunction with New Venture Fund. [22] Kessler helped manage conservation issues around the globe for the Clinton administration. [23] Kessler served as founding president of the NVF from 2006 to 2015. [24]

Board of Directors

In 2017, the NVF’s board of directors consisted of board chair Eric Kessler; NVF president Lee Bodner; Arabella Advisors CFO Wilbur Priester; Arabella Advisors general counsel Andrew Schulz; Democratic Party political consultant Adam Eichberg; Katherine Miller; Daryn Dodson; Harry Drucker; Tom Gibian; and Yanique Gibian. [25]

Staff

The New Venture Fund’s highest-paid staffer in 2017 was Marc Kastner, project director of the Science Philanthropy Alliance (an NVF project). Kastner earned a salary of $530,540 in 2017. [26]

Documents

IRS Filings

The New Venture Fund’s 2017 IRS filing (Form 990) was acquired by the Capital Research Center in March 2019 and is available here.

The New Venture Fund’s 2016 IRS filing (Form 990) is available here.

Application for Tax Exemption

The New Venture Fund’s application for recognition of tax-exempt status under the IRS was filed in January 2007 and available here.

References

  1. “About New Venture Fund.” Accessed February 17, 2017. http://www.newventurefund.org/about-nvf/
  2. Markay, Lachan. “Over 100 Left-Wing Groups Sourced to DC Dark Money Outfit.” Washington Free Beacon. October 22, 2015. Accessed February 18, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/issues/over-100-left-wing-groups-sourced-to-d-c-dark-money-outfit/
  3. Application for Recognition of Exemption (Form 1023). New Venture Fund. 2006. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/03/New-Venture-Fund-1023-IRS-Exemption.pdf
  4. Application for Recognition of Exemption (Form 1023). New Venture Fund. 2006. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/03/New-Venture-Fund-1023-IRS-Exemption.pdf
  5. Application for Recognition of Exemption (Form 1023). New Venture Fund. 2006. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/03/New-Venture-Fund-1023-IRS-Exemption.pdf
  6. Application for Recognition of Exemption (Form 1023). New Venture Fund. 2006. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/03/New-Venture-Fund-1023-IRS-Exemption.pdf
  7. “About New Venture Fund.” New Venture Fund. Accessed March 22, 2019. http://www.newventurefund.org/about-nvf/
  8. Northey, Hannah. “Dem strategist takes on oil industry – despite the odds.” E&E News. September 10, 2015. Accessed February 18, 2017. http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060024471
  9. Wilson, Steve. “New Venture Fund gave more than $5 million to Mississippi initiative fight.” Watchdog. November 16, 2015. Accessed February 18, 2017. http://watchdog.org/246855/new-venture-fund/
  10. Biddle, Reshawn. “NEA’s $138 Million Political Spree.” Dropout Nation. November 30, 2016. Accessed February 18, 2017. http://dropoutnation.net/2016/11/30/neas-138-million-influence-spree/
  11. New Venture Fund Board of Directors page. Accessed February 17, 2017. http://www.newventurefund.org/about-nvf/board-of-directors/
  12. Baron, Ethan. “Google’s secretive and deep-pocketed foe heavily funded by Gates, Hewlett foundations.” SiliconBeat. July 19, 2016. Accessed February 18, 2017. http://www.siliconbeat.com/2016/07/19/googles-secretive-and-deep-pocketed-foe-heavily-funded-by-gates-hewlett-foundations/
  13. Baron, Ethan. “Google’s secretive and deep-pocketed foe heavily funded by Gates, Hewlett foundations.” SiliconBeat. July 19, 2016. Accessed February 18, 2017. http://www.siliconbeat.com/2016/07/19/googles-secretive-and-deep-pocketed-foe-heavily-funded-by-gates-hewlett-foundations/
  14. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). New Venture Fund. 2017. Schedule A, Part I. Lines 12, 18, 22. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/03/New-Venture-Fund-2017-Form-990-reduced.pdf
  15. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). New Venture Fund. 2016. Schedule A, Part I. Lines 12, 18, 22. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/03/New-Venture-Fund-2017-Form-990-reduced.pdf
  16. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990) (multiple). New Venture Fund. 2006-2017. Schedule A. Part I. Lines 12, 13, 18, 22.
  17. New Venture Fund IRS 990 form. Accessed February 18, 2017. http://www.newventurefund.org/wp-content/uploads/NVF-2015-990.pdf
  18. New Venture Fund IRS 990 form. Accessed February 18, 2017. http://www.newventurefund.org/wp-content/uploads/NVF-2015-990.pdf
  19. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). New Venture Fund (2007 – 2017). Part VII, Section B (Independent Contractors.)
  20. New Venture Fund Staff Biographies page. Accessed February 20, 2017. http://www.newventurefund.org/about-nvf/staff-biographies/
  21. New Venture Fund Staff Biographies page. Accessed February 20, 2017. http://www.newventurefund.org/about-nvf/staff-biographies/
  22. New Venture Fund Board of Directors page. Accessed February 17, 2017. http://www.newventurefund.org/about-nvf/board-of-directors/
  23. New Venture Fund Board of Directors page. Accessed February 17, 2017. http://www.newventurefund.org/about-nvf/board-of-directors/
  24. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). New Venture Fund. 2007-2015. Schedule A, Part VII (Compensation of Officers, Directors, etc.).
  25. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). New Venture Fund. 2017. Schedule A, Part VII (Compensation of Officers, Directors, etc.). Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/03/New-Venture-Fund-2017-Form-990-reduced.pdf
  26. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). New Venture Fund. 2017. Schedule A, Part VII (Compensation of Officers, Directors, etc.). Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/03/New-Venture-Fund-2017-Form-990-reduced.pdf

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Harry Drucker
    Board Member
  2. Wilbur Priester
    Chief Financial Officer and Board Member
  3. Andrew Schulz
    General Counsel and Board Member
  4. Kyle Herrig
    Board Member
  5. Thomas Gibian
    Board Member
  6. Katherine Miller
    Board Secretary
  7. Yanique Redwood
    Board Member
  8. Lee Bodner
    President
  9. Eric Kessler
    Board Chair
  10. Arkadi Gerney
    Project Director
  11. Bruce Boyd
    Senior Advisor

Donor Organizations

  1. American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) (Labor Union)
  2. Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (Non-profit)
  3. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) (Labor Union)
  4. Angell Foundation (Non-profit)
  5. Annenberg Foundation (Non-profit)
  6. Ben & Jerry’s Foundation (Non-profit)
  7. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Non-profit)
  8. Blue Moon Fund (Cassiopeia Foundation) (Non-profit)
  9. Broad Foundation (Non-profit)
  10. California Wellness Foundation (Non-profit)
  11. Campion Foundation (Non-profit)
  12. Carnegie Corporation of New York (Non-profit)
  13. Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  14. Chestnut Fund (Non-profit)
  15. Chorus Foundation (Non-profit)
  16. Compton Foundation (Non-profit)
  17. David and Lucile Packard Foundation (Non-profit)
  18. David Bohnett Foundation (Non-profit)
  19. David Rockefeller Fund (Non-profit)
  20. Democracy Fund (Non-profit)
  21. Ford Foundation (Non-profit)
  22. Foundation for Civic Leadership (Non-profit)
  23. Foundation to Promote Open Society (Non-profit)
  24. Gill Foundation (Non-profit)
  25. Gordon E. and Betty I. Moore Foundation (Non-profit)
  26. Heising-Simons Foundation (Non-profit)
  27. Herb Block Foundation (Non-profit)
  28. Howard G. Buffett Foundation (Non-profit)
  29. Hyams Foundation (Non-profit)
  30. Joyce Foundation (Non-profit)
  31. Kendeda Fund (Non-profit)
  32. Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust (Non-profit)
  33. Leonard & Sophie Davis Fund (Non-profit)
  34. Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund (Non-profit)
  35. McKnight Foundation (Non-profit)
  36. Moriah Fund (Non-profit)
  37. Musk Foundation (Non-profit)
  38. National Education Association (NEA) (Labor Union)
  39. NEO Philanthropy (Non-profit)
  40. NoVo Foundation (Non-profit)
  41. Oak Foundation USA (Non-profit)
  42. Passport Foundation (Non-profit)
  43. Pew Charitable Trusts (Non-profit)
  44. Pisces Foundation (Non-profit)
  45. Public Welfare Foundation (Non-profit)
  46. Resources Legacy Fund (Non-profit)
  47. Rita Allen Foundation (Non-profit)
  48. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) (Non-profit)
  49. Robin Hood Foundation (Non-profit)
  50. Rockefeller Brothers Fund (Non-profit)
  51. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (Non-profit)
  52. S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation (Non-profit)
  53. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (Labor Union)
  54. Sixteen Thirty Fund (Non-profit)
  55. Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation (Non-profit)
  56. Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (Non-profit)
  57. Swift Foundation (Non-profit)
  58. Tiffany & Co. Foundation (Non-profit)
  59. TomKat Charitable Trust (Non-profit)
  60. Tow Foundation (Non-profit)
  61. Voqal Fund (Instructional Telecommunications Foundation) (Non-profit)
  62. W. K. Kellogg Foundation (Non-profit)
  63. Walton Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  64. Weingart Foundation (Non-profit)
  65. Western Conservation Foundation (Non-profit)
  66. Wilburforce Foundation (Non-profit)
  67. William Penn Foundation (Non-profit)
  68. Wyss Foundation (Non-profit)

Donation Recipients

  1. 350.org (Non-profit)
  2. Advancement Project (Non-profit)
  3. America Votes (Non-profit)
  4. American Bird Conservancy (Non-profit)
  5. Blueprint NC (Non-profit)
  6. Business for Social Responsibility (Non-profit)
  7. CASA de Maryland (Non-profit)
  8. Center for American Progress (CAP) (Non-profit)
  9. Center for Media Justice (Non-profit)
  10. Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) (Non-profit)
  11. Ceres (Non-profit)
  12. Civic Participation Action Fund (CPAF) (Non-profit)
  13. Coworker.org (Non-profit)
  14. Economic Innovation Group (Non-profit)
  15. Energy Action Coalition (Non-profit)
  16. Environment America Research and Policy Center (Non-profit)
  17. Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) (Non-profit)
  18. Feminist Majority Foundation (Non-profit)
  19. Ford Foundation (Non-profit)
  20. Free Press (Non-profit)
  21. Gill Foundation (Non-profit)
  22. Gordon E. and Betty I. Moore Foundation (Non-profit)
  23. Guttmacher Institute (Non-profit)
  24. ISAIAH (Non-profit)
  25. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Non-profit)
  26. League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF) (Non-profit)
  27. Media Matters for America (Non-profit)
  28. Movement Strategy Center (Non-profit)
  29. National Urban League (Non-profit)
  30. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (Non-profit)
  31. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (Non-profit)
  32. NEO Philanthropy (Non-profit)
  33. New America (New America Foundation) (Non-profit)
  34. Ohio Organizing Collaborative (Non-profit)
  35. Partnership Project (Non-profit)
  36. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (Non-profit)
  37. Sierra Club Foundation (Non-profit)
  38. Sixteen Thirty Fund (Non-profit)
  39. State Voices (Non-profit)
  40. The Trace (Non-profit)
  41. Trout Unlimited (Non-profit)
  42. U.S. Peace Corps (Government Agency)
  43. Urban Institute (Non-profit)
  44. We Mean Business Coalition (Non-profit)
  45. Women’s Foundation of California (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 2007

  • 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
    2016 Dec Form 990 $357,581,316 $264,546,947 $364,305,889 $42,489,604 N $363,725,355 $3,205,477 $1,403,901 $236,660
    2015 Dec Form 990 $318,405,056 $214,351,188 $264,453,055 $34,360,980 N $315,729,299 $2,100,649 $620,682 $160,833 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $179,424,945 $134,487,602 $143,413,906 $17,602,708 N $177,897,024 $1,222,950 $341,155 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $112,942,320 $74,982,490 $85,262,349 $4,388,494 N $111,843,284 $906,840 $192,196 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $52,519,099 $39,574,786 $44,254,337 $1,340,312 N $51,601,903 $764,640 $152,556 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $36,542,348 $24,722,363 $32,883,497 $2,913,785 N $35,238,110 $1,138,686 $162,836 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    New Venture Fund (NVF)

    1201 CONNECTICUT AVE NW STE 300
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-2656