Turner Foundation




Tax ID:


DUNS Number:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2020):

Revenue: $2,770,411
Expenses: $1,948,820
Assets: $4,235,517


Grantmaking Foundation




Ted Turner

Latest Tax Filing:

2021 990 Form

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The Turner Foundation is a grantmaking nonprofit associated with the family of billionaire media executive Ted Turner. The Foundation primarily supports environmental conservation efforts, but also contributes to left-of-center environmental advocacy groups. Among the Foundation’s initial goals was “developing practices and policies to curb population growth rates,” a long-running interest of Turner’s. 1


The Turner Foundation has disbursed about $400 million since its founding. The Foundation’s website states that it disburses around $6 million per year, though recently it has spent significantly less annually. In 2021, the Foundation did not make any grants. 2 3

In 2020, the Foundation disbursed only $2.5 million. Grant recipients included the Conservation Energy Network, the Montana Renewable Energy Association, the National Audubon Society, the Property and Environment Research Center, the Resources Legacy Fund, the River Network, the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Trust for Public land, and the World Wildlife Fund. The year’s largest donation, of $535,000, was given to the Turner Endangered Species Fund. 4

In 2019, the Foundation disbursed almost $5 million. Grant recipients included the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, the Center for Carbon Removal, the Center for Rural Affairs, Cimarron Public Schools, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth, the National Wildlife Federation, the Conservation Fund, and Vote Solar. The Foundation’s largest grant of the year, of $150,000, was given to the Captain Planet Foundation (founded by Ted Turner). 5

Grant Programs

The Foundation divides its grants between four programs: land, air, water, and “growing the movement.” 6 “We Are Passionate About Land.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.[/note]

The Foundation’s land program supports both private and government conservation lands, as well as conservation laws. 7

The Foundation’s air program primarily supports weather-dependent energy to reduce air pollution. 8

The Foundation’s water program supports freshwater and marine conservation, as well as sustainable fishing practices. 9

The Foundation’s “growing the movement” program supports the environmentalist movement through outreach to youth, businesses, and outdoor recreation groups. The program also focuses on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the environmentalist movement to counteract how environmental problems allegedly “disproportionately affect low-income and communities of color across the nation.” 10


The Turner Foundation is mostly funded by Ted Turner. In 2021, he gave a little over $1 million to the Foundation. As of 1996, Turner had given $150 million to the Foundation. Most of the Foundation’s other funding comes from other Turner family members. 11 12

As of 1996, Ted Turner’s fortune would go to a trust held by his children after his death. Upon the deaths of his children, the fortune would go to the Turner Foundation. 13


Troy Ettel has been the executive director of the Turner Foundation since 2020, and he previously served as a program officer. From 2011 to 2018, Ettel was the director of forest conservation at the Nature Conservancy; from 2003 to 2011, he was the director of conservation and stewardship at the New Jersey Audubon Society; and from 2000 to 2003, he was the Tennessee state ornithologist. 14

Robert Edward “Ted” Turner III is a billionaire media proprietor best known as the founder of CNN and TBS and a major donor to left-progressive causes. While Turner has not explicitly identified himself with a political party, his policy views are generally left-of-center to left-wing, and he has referred to himself as a “socialist at heart.” Though Turner primarily focuses on environmental conservation, he supports curbing human population growth as an environmentalist policy. 15

The Turner Foundation’s board of directors and junior board of directors consists of Ted Turner and seven of his children and grandchildren. 16

Robert Edward “Teddy” Turner IV has outspokenly different political views from his father. In 2013, Teddy Turner ran for Congress in South Carolina’s 1st District as a Republican. At least at the time, Teddy Turner opposed the legalization of gay marriage, supported lower taxes, and was skeptical of the impacts of climate change. While Teddy Turner made light-hearted disparaging remarks about his father at campaign events, he maintained that their relationship was good and their disagreements were purely political. 17 Teddy Turner came in fourth place in the Republican primary with 7.9 percent of the vote. 18 The winner of the primary and general election, Mark Sanford (R-SC), had previously received a campaign contribution from Ted Turner. 19

Teddy Turner has donated to political candidates in both political parties. In 2013 and 2014, he contributed to the unsuccessful senatorial reelection campaign of Mark Udall (D-CO). In 2010, Turner gave $2,400 to Congressman Martin Heinrich (D-NM). In 1998, Turner gave $1,000 to Senator John McCain (R-AZ). 20

Beau Turner is heavily involved in Turner’s investments and philanthropy. Beau Turner is the director of natural resources and biodiversity of Turner Enterprises, and the chairman of the board of trustees for the Turner Endangered Species Fund. He also sits on the boards of three other environmentalist nonprofits: the Ted Turner-founded Captain Planet Foundation, the Jane Smith Turner Foundation, and the Peregrine Fund. In 2008, Beau founded the Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center. 21

Laura Turner is also involved in many of Ted Turner’s nonprofit projects. She is the chairperson of the Captain Planet Foundation and Zero Waste Zones. She co-founded Mothers and Others for Clean Air and the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. 22

Rhett Turner is the president of Red Sky Productions, a documentary film production company. Much of his film work has concerned environmental matters, and he has cooperated with the National Wildlife Federation. 23

Sara Jean Turner Garlington is a television host, former television producer, and previously sat for 12 years on the board of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 24

John Rutherford Seydel III is the deputy chief sustainability officer for the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Resilience. He sits on the boards of Ideas for Us and the Captain Planet Foundation. 25

Florence Vasser Seydel has worked for the Oxygen Project, an environmentalist group founded by her father. 26

Sister Organizations

The Turner Foundation lists the following sister organizations: the Captain Planet Foundation, A Better World Fund, the United Nations Foundation, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative. All four groups were founded by Ted Turner. 27


  1. “Turner Foundation.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.,to%20curb%20population%20growth%20rates.
  2. “Turner Foundation Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  3. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  4. “2020 Turner Foundation Awarded Grants.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  5. “2019 Turner Foundation Awarded Grants.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  6. “We Are Passionate About Land.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  7. “We Are Passionate About Land.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  8. “Air.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  9. “Water.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  10. “Growing the Movement.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  11. “Turner Foundation Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  12. Fabrikant, Geraldine. “Ted (Don’t Fence Me In) Turner.” The New York Times. November 24, 1996. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  13. Fabrikant, Geraldine. “Ted (Don’t Fence Me In) Turner.” The New York Times. November 24, 1996. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  14. “Troy Ettel.” LinkedIn. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  15. Herman, Stephanie. “The Smallest Proletariat.” American Partisan. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  16. “Leadership.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  17. Isenstadt, Alex. “Teddy Turner battles Ted’s legacy.” Politico. February 18, 2013. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  18. “U.S. House of Representatives, District 1 – Rep (Vote for 1).” South Carolina State Election Commission. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  19. “Donor Lookup: Ted Turner.” Open Secrets. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  20. “Donor Lookup: Ted Turner.” Open Secrets. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  21. “Beau Turner.” Turner Enterprises. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  22. Caleb. “Ted Turner Family.” CelebFamily. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  23. “Rhett Turner.” Turner Enterprises. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  24. “Jennie Garland.” Ted Turner. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  25. “John R. Seydel.” Captain Planet Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  26. Fein, Ruth. “The Next Climate Disaster Nobody is Talking About.” The Oxygen Project. August 5, 2020. Accessed August 23, 2023.
  27. “Our Story.” Turner Foundation. Accessed August 23, 2023.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Ted Turner
    Chairman; Principal Donor

Donation Recipients

  1. American Bird Conservancy (Non-profit)
  2. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (Non-profit)
  3. American Rivers (Non-profit)
  4. Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) (Non-profit)
  5. Ceres (Non-profit)
  6. Conservative Energy Network (Non-profit)
  7. Defenders of Wildlife (Non-profit)
  8. Ducks Unlimited (Non-profit)
  9. Earth Island Institute (Non-profit)
  10. Earthjustice (Non-profit)
  11. Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) (Non-profit)
  12. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) (Non-profit)
  13. Environmental Working Group (EWG) (Non-profit)
  14. Friends of the Earth (Non-profit)
  15. Global Green USA (Non-profit)
  16. League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF) (Non-profit)
  17. League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) (Non-profit)
  18. National Audubon Society (Non-profit)
  19. National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) (Non-profit)
  20. National Women’s Law Center (Non-profit)
  21. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (Non-profit)
  22. New Venture Fund (NVF) (Non-profit)
  23. Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (Non-profit)
  24. Pew Charitable Trusts (Non-profit)
  25. Society of Environmental Journalists (Non-profit)
  26. Southern Environmental Law Center (Non-profit)
  27. Sustainable Markets Foundation (Non-profit)
  28. Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (Non-profit)
  29. Tides Canada Foundation (Non-profit)
  30. Trout Unlimited (Non-profit)
  31. Turner Endangered Species Fund (Non-profit)
  32. U.S. Green Building Council (Non-profit)
  33. U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) Education Fund (Non-profit)
  34. United Nations Foundation (Non-profit)
  35. V-Day (Non-profit)
  36. Virginia Organizing (Non-profit)
  37. Waterkeeper Alliance (Non-profit)
  38. Western Organization of Resource Councils Education Project (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 1991

  • 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
    2020 Dec Form PF $2,770,411 $1,948,820 $4,235,517 $13,748 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2019 Dec Form PF $7,874,421 $7,057,632 $5,911,192 $2,483,447 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2015 Dec Form PF $12,546,019 $11,958,863 $4,980,219 $3,062,187 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $12,449,680 $12,008,909 $12,660,515 $4,104,788 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $12,275,886 $11,747,328 $12,200,379 $4,091,332 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $13,130,140 $12,558,211 $12,347,629 $4,759,185 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $10,059,840 $11,899,702 $4,504,937 $4,797,345 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Turner Foundation

    ATLANTA, GA 30303-2038