New Venture Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that makes grants to left-of-center advocacy and organizing projects. 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.
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.
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 ad campaign in Colorado, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, and New Mexico, urging voters to tell their senators they wanted to keep the ban. Allied Progress Action is the sister to Allied Progress, and a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund.
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.
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. Eric Kessler, the president and board chairman of New Venture Fund, also founded Arabella Advisors.
Campaign for Accountability
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. 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.)
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. Kessler helped manage conservation issues around the globe for the Clinton administration.
Lee Bodner serves as New Venture Fund’s president, after previously serving as managing director of Arabella Advisors. 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.
The most recent IRS 990 form for New Venture Fund listed Bodner’s total compensation as $181,257. Project director Karen Nussle is New Venture Fund’s highest-paid employee with total compensation of $363,311 in 2015.
New Venture Fund lists revenue of $318,405,056 and expenses of $214,351,188 on its IRS 990 form for 2015.
New Venture Fund reports providing grants for health and environmental issues on every populated continent on its IRS 990 form. 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.