Rockefeller Family Fund




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2021):

Revenue: $59,624,056
Expenses: $33,949,094
Assets: $175,072,856




David Kaiser

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The Rockefeller Family Fund is the nonprofit organization supporting the philanthropy of the great-grandchildren of John D. Rockefeller and the grandchildren of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The “cousins,” as Rockefeller Jr.’s grandchildren came to be known, were major supporters of left-wing counterculture causes as early as the 1960s.1 In 1992, the Rockefeller Family Fund became a public charity, and today the organization is a leading financial supporter of environmentalist organizations.


Thanks to trusts established by Rockefeller, Jr., these great-grandchildren (known as the “cousins”) never had to look for work. The cousins proved to be left-wing from as early as the 1960s: They “poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into movement causes ranging from Ramparts magazine and the film Millhouse to the [Castro regime-front] Venceremos Brigade and Vietnam Veterans Against The War.”2

The Rockefeller Family Fund was created in 1967, but was enlarged in 1971 when Rockefeller, Jr.’s widow, Martha Baird Rockefeller, died and left her $72 million estate to charity, including $10 million to the Rockefeller Family Fund. In an internal memorandum for the other cousins, Laurance Rockefeller’s daughter Marion said “the task as we see it is to attack the very political and economic forces which perpetuate the tax deductible contribution…We think the Fund has an obligation to seek out organizations like American Friends Service Committee, Friends of the Earth, Pacifica stations, American Documentary Films et al. and support them regardless of their tax status.”3

In 1992, the Rockefeller Family Fund became a public charity.4 Today, the Fund supports grants in three areas:

  • Environment, which, “since 2006” has focused “almost entirely on climate change,” including grants to block or close coal-fired power plants.5
  • Institutional Accountability and Individual Liberty, with an emphasis on “enacting legislation to provide automatic and permanent registration to all voters.”6
  • Economic Justice for Women, whose principal program is lobbying to increase the number of mandated paid sick days for working women.7

In 2017, the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF) gave over $1 million to environmental advocate group the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) as part of their efforts to litigate against energy companies over climate change costs. 8 In addition, the RFF helped fund a 2017 study by IGSD project the Center for Climate Integrity (CCI), which claimed that the state of Florida would face up to $76 billion in climate change costs by 2040. 9


Oil Divestment

In 2016, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced it would divest its endowment of all stocks related to oil and gas. “John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and ExxonMobil is Standard Oil’s largest direct descendant,” the fund’s president, David Kaiser, and its director, Lee Wasserman, noted in an article in the New York Review of Books. “In a sense we were turning against the company where most of the Rockefeller family’s wealth was created.”10


In 2015, Rockefeller Family Fund provided a series of grants to Inside Climate News, while the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism supported reports in Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times that described a tranche of internal documents from ExxonMobil scientists, mostly from 1977-1986. Inside Climate News claimed that ExxonMobil published many advertisements in newspapers questioning the idea that the production and consumption of fossil fuels led to global warming while their scientists said that the connection between fossil fuel consumption and increases in the earth’s global temperature were more certain.11

A second grant, to Harvard graduate student Geoffrey Supran and Harvard historian of science Naomi Oreskes, led to the publication of an article in Environmental Research Letters in August 2017 that analyzed the documents unearthed by Inside Climate News and compared them to ExxonMobil paid advertisements, charging that the company had covered up findings about human-caused climate change.12

The publication of these documents led to investigations of ExxonMobil by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which remain ongoing.

As part of their campaign against ExxonMobil, the Rockefeller Family Fund held a meeting at their offices in January 2016, which included representatives from Greenpeace, the Working Families Party, Public Citizen president Rob Weissman, and author and environmentalist Bill McKibben.  Kenny Bruno of the New Venture Fund, in an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, said the purposes of the meeting included establishing “in public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm,” “to force officials to disassociate themselves from Exxon, their money, and their historic opposition to climate progress, for example by refusing campaign donations, refusing to take meetings, calling for a price on carbon, etc.” and “to drive Exxon and climate into center of 2016 election cycle.”13

Writing in the blog for climate skeptics Watts Up With That, Eric Worrall noted that Exxon scientists predicted a rise of between 1.5 and three degrees Celsius as a result of fossil fuels. “The lower range of Exxon’s estimate is an unequivocal ‘no action required.’ The upper range of Exxon’s estimate is ‘we might need to do something about it in the future.” Worrall said, “In my opinion, Exxon’s actions and communications with the public were proportionate and reasonable.”14


  1. Martin Morse Wooster, “The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund,” Foundation Watch, January 2005
  2. Martin Morse Wooster, “The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund,” Foundation Watch, January 2005
  3. Martin Morse Wooster, “The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund.”
  4. Ron Arnold, “The Rockefeller Family Fund:  Puppet Master for Leftist Front Groups.” Foundation Watch, January 2005
  7. http://www/
  8. Walrath, Spencer. “Revealed: Foreign Billionaire Behind the Group Pushing American Cities to Sue Energy Producers.” Energy In Depth, January 8, 2020.
  9. Wilson, Kirby. “Florida could face $76 billion in climate change costs by 2040, report says.” Tampa Bay Times, June 21, 2019.
  10. David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman, “The Rockefeller Family Fund vs. Exxon,” New York Review of Books, December 8, 2016
  11. Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song, and David Hasemyer, “Exxon’s Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels’ Role in Global Warming Decades Ago,” Inside Climate News, September 18, 2015,
  12. Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes, “Assessing ExxonMobil’s Climate Change Communications (1977-2014), Environmental Research Letters, August 23, 2017,  Dino Grandoni, “ExxonMobil Urged People To Read The Documents, So These Harvard Researchers Did,” Washington Post, August 24, 2017,
  13. Alana Goodman, “Memo Shows Secret Coordination Effort Against ExxonMobil By Climate Activists, Rockefeller Fund,” Washington Free Beacon, April 14, 2016
  14. Eric Worrall, “Study:  Naomi Oreskes And Claims ExxonMobil Misled About Climate,” Watts Up With That, August 24, 2017, http://www.wattsupwiththat/2017/08/24/study-naomi-oreskes-claims-exxon-mobil-misled-about-climate/

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Paul Growald
    Former Board Member
  2. Lisa Guide
    Associate Director (2003-Present)
  3. Lee Wasserman
    Director (1999-Present)
  4. Alida Messinger
    Board Member
  5. Anne Bartley
    Board Member
  6. John Gilroy
    Former Program Associate
  7. Naomi Oreskes
    Grant Recipient

Donation Recipients

  1. 1000 Friends of Wisconsin (Non-profit)
  2. 1Sky (Non-profit)
  3. 20/20 Vision Education Fund (Non-profit)
  4. Anti-Defamation League Foundation (ADLF) (Non-profit)
  5. Campaign Legal Center (Non-profit)
  6. Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) (Non-profit)
  7. Center for Digital Democracy (Non-profit)
  8. Center for Public Interest Research (Non-profit)
  9. Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) (Non-profit)
  10. Committee on States (Other Group)
  11. #Cut50 (Non-profit)
  12. Democracy North Carolina (Non-profit)
  13. Demos (Non-profit)
  14. Electronic Privacy Information Center (Non-profit)
  15. Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) (Non-profit)
  16. Everybody Benefits Coalition (Other Group)
  17. Fair Elections Center (Non-profit)
  18. Family Forward Oregon (Non-profit)
  19. Family Values @ Work (Non-profit)
  20. Government Accountability Project (GAP) (Non-profit)
  21. Institute for Women’s Policy Research (Non-profit)
  22. Kentucky Coalition (Non-profit)
  23. MapLight (Non-profit)
  24. Medical Students for Choice (Non-profit)
  25. National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) (Non-profit)
  26. Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) (Non-profit)
  27. Resources for the Future (RFF) (Non-profit)
  28. Sustainable Markets Foundation (Non-profit)
  29. Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) (Non-profit)
  30. U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) Education Fund (Non-profit)
  31. U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) (Non-profit)
  32. RePower Fund (Wellstone Action Fund) (Non-profit)
  33. West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (Non-profit)
  34. Western Conservation Foundation (Non-profit)
  35. Western Organization of Resource Councils Education Project (Non-profit)
  36. Working Families Organization (WFO) (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 1968

  • 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 $59,624,056 $33,949,094 $175,072,856 $5,643,339 Y $38,090,028 $0 $408,936 $1,205,119
    2020 Dec Form 990 $43,772,368 $33,772,718 $156,631,848 $5,978,978 Y $18,741,885 $0 $961,581 $1,953,559
    2019 Dec Form 990 $39,923,508 $26,334,002 $159,642,160 $6,146,827 Y $34,722,028 $0 $1,876,656 $2,058,218 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $35,813,481 $22,406,646 $133,238,312 $4,350,786 Y $34,841,299 $0 $1,531,386 $1,483,910 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $38,367,196 $18,190,088 $127,093,829 $4,966,899 Y $29,957,267 $0 $928,746 $1,453,647 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $19,972,669 $19,056,804 $103,519,462 $5,636,786 N $19,441,702 $0 $722,637 $1,425,564 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $15,451,576 $20,869,982 $94,925,016 $3,835,965 N $11,234,985 $0 $764,631 $1,394,941 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $20,502,347 $18,472,564 $106,971,028 $3,798,385 N $13,432,929 $0 $1,034,631 $916,331 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $19,748,624 $14,423,010 $107,084,925 $2,801,406 Y $12,957,587 $0 $916,190 $386,913 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $14,669,527 $16,511,968 $97,177,394 $2,275,784 Y $10,595,880 $0 $829,799 $385,596 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $15,600,187 $18,191,304 $92,753,720 $2,501,772 Y $14,556,195 $0 $754,461 $361,150 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $6,910,053 $19,685,067 $93,919,144 $1,701,150 Y $16,084,978 $0 $635,736 $259,600 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Rockefeller Family Fund

    475 RIVERSIDE DR RM 900
    NEW YORK, NY 10115-0066