Radical Progressives: How Tides Washes the Left’s Money

By Rachel Swaffer
In 2010, a collection of the most radical progressive organizations in the United States received a total of $113,900,000 in charitable donations, all stemming from one foundation: Tides– the grant-making non-profit that has been taking care of liberals’ dirty laundry for over 35 years now, helping obscure the money trail to radical activist organizations.
Tides’ 2010 list of grantees includes extreme left-wing and progressive organizations: Media Matters, Planned Parenthood, PETA, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACORN, Democracy Now, Healthcare for America Now, and Taxpayers for Common Sense (and many, many more).
The genius of the Tides foundation is that it allows donors to support radical activist groups while maintaining near complete anonymity – crucial for groups and individuals with their fingers in multiple, possibly contradictory, political pies.
In short, Tides accepts money from progressive and left-leaning donors – both individuals and large corporations – and then grants these donations back out to radically progressive groups, bank-rolling the left while preserving the anonymity that is so important to their donors.
All of this from a movement that prides itself on transparency!  Tides grantee Media Matters even maintains a website (PoliticalCorrection.org) dedicated solely to holding conservative organizations and politicians accountable and transparent.
Because the Tides Foundation is 501(c)3 non-profit, it is not required to release a list of grants that it receives; it only reports funds granted out.  Therefore we know how much money goes in to Tides in a given year, the specific grants it is giving out, and some of the larger donations that it receives (private charitable foundations like Ford and Pew are required to report their donations); however, there is no way to connect incoming funds to outgoing funds.
Tides has two types of philanthropic methods: general donations and donor advised funding.  The donor advised fund system puts donated money into a Tides fund advised by the original donor group, but dispersed in the name of Tides rather than the organization where the money originated.  In other words, donor advised funding allows funders to tell Tides exactly what to do with their money while still maintaining complete donor anonymity.  Many well-regarded grant-making philanthropists donate heavily to the Tides Foundation in this manner; in 2010 the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation gave $2,725,000 to the Tides Foundation, Ford Foundation gave a total of $6,077,121 to Tides-related organizations, the Advocacy Fund donated $786,486, and Pew Charitable Trusts gave $200,000 (all according to respective 2010 990 tax forms).
On a more micro level, individuals have the option of donating directly to one of  the Tides Center’s 230 pet “projects” or giving to Tides, generally, for Tides to invest at its discretion.  Either way, the money is granted out in the name of Tides and, as always, the original donor remains anonymous.  For individual donations, the transaction can occur online.

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