Christian charity gave more than $50 million to hate groups
The National Christian Foundation is America’s eighth largest public charity, but it doesn’t build houses, educate children, feed the hungry, or provide other goods or services one might commonly associate with a charity. It’s also not a household name like the Red Cross, but that doesn’t prevent it from having vast influence. According to a new investigation from Sludge, the far-right, evangelical NCF “has donated $56.1 million on behalf of its clients to 23 nonprofits identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups.”
These nonprofits include multiple anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate groups. In fact, as reporter Alex Kotch points out, Inside Philanthropy has said that NCF “is probably the single biggest source of money fueling the pro-life and anti-LGBT movements over the past 15 years.”
In addition to not being a direct service charity, the NCF is also not a conventional foundation that a wealthy donor uses as a vehicle to grow and then give away their money to multiple other charities over time. Instead, it’s a donor-advised fund, offering its Christian donors “expert guidance and creative giving solutions,” Kotch writes.
Helaine Olen, writing in The Atlantic, calls these donor-advised funds a “waiting room for charitable donations,” in which anyone, not only the wealthy, can place money into the fund, let it grow, and then have it distribute the money gradually to organizations of the donor’s choice.
According to Kotch, these funds allow their clients “immediate tax breaks on donations.”
They also give individual donors who pay into the fund anonymity. While Sludge was able to use publicly available tax findings to determine which organizations NCF funded, the names of the fund’s donors stay hidden.
The biggest recipient of NCF funds, according to Sludge’s investigation, is Alliance Defending Freedom, a network of lawyers, who, Kotch writes, “have supported criminalizing homosexuality, sterilizing transgender people, and claimed that gay men are pedophiles.”
Alliance Defending Freedom took in $49.2 million from NCF from 2015-17. ADF received $46.3 million in contributions and grants during the 2016 fiscal year (from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016). It got $16.8 million from NCF in the calendar year of 2015, meaning that, if these years were aligned, NCF’s donations would have represented over one-third of ADF’s annual contributions.
The Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center says “often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science,” including linking homosexuality to pedophilia, is another frequent beneficiary of NCF funds. Sludge found it received $5.3 million from 2015 to 2017.
While anti-LGBT organizations are the primary recipients of NCF’s funds, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant organizations also benefit:
Anti-Muslim groups ACT for America ($98,000), American Freedom Law Center ($40,000), David Horowitz Freedom Center ($40,000), and Virginia Christian Alliance ($3,600) have received thousands from NCF since mid-2014, and anti-immigrant nonprofits American Border Patrol ($100) and The Remembrance Project ($2,500) also got NCF funding.
Donor-advised funds, in general, are not required to have policies addressing hate groups. As Kotch explains, “these giant funds absolve themselves of any responsibility, saying that as long as the Internal Revenue Service has granted 501(c)(3) status to an organization, it’s fair game.”
At least one expert Sludge spoke to believes funds like NCF are funding hate groups intentionally, and could, if they chose, deny a client’s request to fund them.
Aaron Dorfman, president and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, told Sludge, “With the dramatic escalation of violence and intimidation by white nationalists and right-wing extremists, it’s way past due for sponsors of donor-advised funds to cut off any dollars flowing to hate groups.” And, he continued, “they have every right to exercise discretion by refusing a donor’s request to fund a hate group.”
NCF did not respond to Sludge’s requests for comment. Read the entire article here.