Tides Foundation is a San Francisco, California-based 501(c)(3) non-profit social change corporation founded June 4, 1976. Tides is largely credited with pioneering anonymous “Dark Money” transactions through donor advised funds for politically liberal and progressive organizations in the areas of the environment, health care, labor issues, immigrant rights, gay rights, women’s rights, and activism against gun rights, industrial development and corporations. Tides Foundation’s skill at keeping donors anonymous and grant recipients secret became a public issue, bringing IRS attention and measures to separate its most innovative program from its normal grant-making operation.
Follow this link to explore Tides Foundation’s interactions with progressive donors, organizations, activists and influentials.
The 15 Largest ($1,000,000+) Foundation Donors in 2013
Tides Foundation was co-founded by Drummond MacGavin Pike, M.S., political science, Rutgers University, and Jane Bagley Lehman, Reynolds tobacco heiress and president (1970-1980) of Washington, D.C-based Arca Foundation. Lehman relocated to San Francisco and served as Tides’ chairman of the board until her death in 1988, Her daughter Susan Lehman Carmichael served as a member of the board of directors of both the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center until 2000. Pike ran the operation as president and CEO until resigning in 2010 to pursue financial ventures. In his 34-year reign, Pike created, mentored, funded and led more progressive non-profit organizations than anyone in the world (including George Soros). Pike remains board chairman of Environmental Working Group as of 2013.
The Internal Revenue Service advised Tides Foundation, early on, to separate its grantmaking operations from its unorthodox program to create new tailor-made activist groups, sometimes more than 200 at a time. Tides Foundation protected these leftist organizations by lending them its tax exemption in elaborate fiscal sponsorships that included complete financial services – oversight of all revenues and expenditures, monthly financial reports, budgetary tracking, payment of all invoices, audit and governmental reporting, and training in budget preparation and financial management – comprehensive employee benefits – standard vacation and sick pay compensation, health, dental, life, and disability insurance coverage, and a retirement plan – innovative administrative support – liability insurance to grant and contract management – expert human resources policies, training, and intervention – assistance to project directors in personnel matters and annual training in a wide range of human resources areas, from supervisory skills to harassment prevention. All this cost 8 percent of the new group’s income as a Tides “management fee.”
In order to satisfy IRS rules and its own needs, Tides directors incorporated the separate Tides Center on May 26, 1994 with its own infrastructure of a 501(c)(3) entity with appropriate incorporation, separate IRS exemption, and charitable registration to run the fiscal sponsorship program efficiently and legally.
Ironically, this split gave Tides experience and expertise in running multiple groups, promoting the Tides concept to grow into a multi-division complex in the United States and Canada, offering an array of services beyond normal foundation functions: the leadership formed subsidiary foundations to fund the Tides programs, real estate services providing shared office and support spaces for its allies, assistance with grantpmaking for wealthy donors, impact investing, network formation, strategic policy consulting, advocacy work and a virtual takeover of many Canadian non-profit foundations and organizations.
Tides Foundation retains its separate identity in this complex, with a new leader, Chairman of the Board of Directors Joanie Bronfman, Seagram whiskey heiress whose PhD dissertation at Brandeis University investigated the psychoses of the rich. Tides Foundation is recognized as the ancestor and anchor of all the rest, although a central command organization, Tides Network assumed executive power over all the growing Tides entities on August 8, 2005. Tides Network provides “executive and financial leadership and coordination, strategic leadership direction, fundraising, administration, management, planning and coordination of mission communications, administration of human resources and office administration for all related Tides entities and other nonprofit organizations.”
The Daily Caller launched an investigation into Media Matters for America, revealing a laundry list of progressive-focused donors that included the Tides Foundation ($4,384,702), George Soros’ Open Society Institutes ($1,075,000), the Ford Foundation ($966,466), and the Sandler Foundation ($400,000). The Caller revealed that more than $28.8 million in funding for Media Matters was collected before its formal incorporation in 2003 – a full 54% of every dollar the organization has raised in its history.
In 2010, Tides granted $2 million to Wikimedia Foundation, the fundraiser and manager of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. The “General Support” grant was a blank check to encourage years of left-wing Wikipedia editing and administration to concentrate on sabotaging libertarian and conservative entries. This grant encouraged the corruption of the Wikimedia Foundation’s motto, “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.” In controversial entries, that commitment is not being lived up to and is misleading donors about the nature of their product.
The Foundation, which is the funding source and manager of the Wikipedia, freely allows leftist editors to hijack the Wikipedia profiles of libertarian and conservative organizations with libelous statements and to censor any libertarian or conservative views on controversial issues such as climate change and education. The Foundation’s executive director Lila Tretikov and board members are doing nothing to check hostile Wikipedia editors who engage in editing wars between free-speech and ideology-only editors.