Perls Foundation



Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $600,479
Expenses: $1,194,774
Assets: $15,824,219




Left-of-center grantmaking organization


Katherine Perls

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The Perls Foundation is a grantmaking foundation founded by art dealer Klaus Perl. The foundation funds many left-of-center groups, including the Public Citizen Foundation, the ACLU, and United for a Fair Economy.

Founding and History

The Perls Foundation was founded by the art dealer Klaus Perls and his family in 1998. Today, the foundation is run by his daughter, Katherine Perls. 1 The foundation has no website and does not appear to accept unsolicited grant proposals.

Financial Information

In 2017, the Perls Foundation reported $1,016,005 in revenue, with $1,299,827 in expenses and disbursements. Roughly $450,000 in revenue came from interest and dividends, with nearly $625,000 coming from the sale of assets. In 2017, the fair market value of the foundation’s assets was $20,331,259 with a book value of $14,741,917. 2

Grantmaking Activities

The Perls Foundation supports a wide range of non-profit causes, including environmental conservation, health care, and left-of-center social policy.

Institute for Knowledge Ecology

The Institute for Knowledge Ecology (also known as Knowledge Ecology International or KEI) is one of the largest recipients of Perl Foundation grants, receiving $2,079,350 since 2013. 3 KEI that works on issues relating “to the management of knowledge resources” and states that it “is focused on social justice, particularly for the most vulnerable populations, including low-income persons and marginalized groups.” 4 5

Public Citizen Foundation

Public Citizen Foundation was founded by former Green Party presidential candidate and longtime left-wing activist Ralph Nader and has received a large amount of funding from the Perl Foundation. Since 2011 the group has received $1,570,000 from the foundation. Public Citizen takes many left-of-center stances, such as opposing the Citizens United decision and petitioning for government-run health care such as “Medicare for All.” 6 7 8

United for a Fair Economy

The Perl Foundation has also made small donations to United for a Fair Economy and its partner project Responsible Wealth. 9 United for a Fair Economy advocates for substantial tax increases. 10 United for a Fair Economy runs the Responsible Wealth Project, which is a network of people who fall into the top 5 percent wealthiest Americans. 11 The project advocates for a high death tax, erasing the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes, and taxing investment income the same as earned income. 12 13

Other Grant Recipients

Other grant recipients include the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-of-center think tank; the American Civil Liberties Union; the Haymarket People’s Fund, a left-of-center social policy group in Boston; and the Center for Constitutional Rights, a left-of-center legal advocacy group. 14


Katherine Perls is the trustee of the foundation. In the past she has contributed to John Kerry’s and Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, and more recently has donated a total of $1,500 to Bernie Sanders for his 2016 and 2020 campaigns for President. 15


  1. Perl Family Foundation, IRS (Form 990 PF), 2017, Part VIII
  2. Perl Family Foundation, IRS (Form 990 PF), 2017, Part I and II
  3. “Perls Foundation Katherine Perls Et Al Trustees.”
  4. “About KEI.” Accessed February 8, 2020.
  5. “Perls Foundation Katherine Perls Et Al Trustees.”
  6. “Citizens United 10 Years Later: 25 Ultrarich People Have Spent $1.4 Billion on Elections.”, January 15, 2020. Accessed February 8, 2020.
  7. “Tell Congress: Medicare for All Now.” Accessed February 8, 2020.
  8. “Perls Foundation Katherine Perls Et Al Trustees.”
  9. “Perls Foundation Katherine Perls Et Al Trustees.”
  10. “Our Mission, Vision, & Values.” Accessed February 8, 2020.
  11. “About Responsible Wealth.” Accessed February 8, 2020.
  12. “About the Estate Tax.” Accessed February 9, 2020.
  13. “About Tax Fairness.” Accessed February 9, 2020.
  14. “Perls Foundation Katherine Perls Et Al Trustees.”
  15. Center for Responsive Politics. “Katherine Perls.” December 30, 2019. Accessed February 8, 2020.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 1998

  • 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 Dec Form PF $600,479 $1,194,774 $15,824,219 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $686,804 $1,197,368 $16,418,514 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $734,511 $1,098,174 $16,858,713 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $645,502 $1,155,382 $17,222,376 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $524,210 $1,076,665 $17,732,256 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Perls Foundation