The Atlantic Council enjoys a diversified donor base, which helps ensure our credibility, integrity, and sustainability. As such, the Council accepts funds from a broad range of sources—including non-US government donors—provided they are for purposes that are in keeping with our mission and adhere to our strict intellectual independence policy. The Council is grateful for and more effective because of its partners, which provide critical support that makes our work possible. As allies and partners of the United States, these partners are also central to advancing our mission of “shaping the global future together.” We welcome the State Department’s call for funding transparency in the think tank community, to which we have demonstrated our commitment by disclosing annually all financial supporters on our website and in our annual report.
In recognition of the Council’s transparency and policies, the Council has earned the highest, four-star rating from Charity Navigator six years in a row. The University of Pennsylvania’s Global Think Tank Index has recognized the Council as among the best managed think tanks globally and for having among the best quality assurance and integrity policies.
With regard to all donors, the Council maintains clear policies to ensure its ethical and legal operation as a section 501(c)(3) organization which values it credibility and integrity as a generator of creative ideas and innovative solutions. All potential contributions from non-US governments or government entities are vetted and approved by the Nominating and Governance Committee of the Atlantic Council Board of Directors. All agreements with donors stipulate that the Council retains intellectual independence and control over any content. Furthermore, the Atlantic Council and its staff, fellows, and directors generate their own ideas and programing, consistent with the Council’s mission, their related body of work, and the independent records of the participating team members. Our general counsel also reviews all such agreements to ensure legal and ethical compliance.
Of the Council’s revenue in 2019, the most recent year for which we have full data, 14 percent (approximately $5.5 million) came from non-US government sources. More than half of that sum came from the governments of NATO allies. Our largest government donor is the United Kingdom, which supports our work studying and exposing disinformation, among other issues. Our other non-US government donors are UAE, Norway, Sweden, Bahrain, Japan, Lithuania, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Slovakia, France, Taiwan, South Korea, the European Union, and Luxembourg. We are proud to have these governments as partners. Further, we do not accept funding from the Russian or Chinese governments—or any affiliated government-run organizations.
We accept donations from governments only under certain conditions:
- We are transparent about our finances. The Atlantic Council publicly acknowledges all its donors in an annual Honor Roll of Contributors (or similar listing) on our website and in our annual report.
- Donors do not direct or influence the results of our work. Acceptance of any contribution is at the discretion of the Council. Accordingly, each is subject to a strict policy that the Council retains intellectual independence and control over any content funded in whole or in part by the contribution, consistent with the Council’s Intellectual Independence Policy.
- We conduct due diligence. The Council’s staff, with the assistance of its general counsel, conducts due diligence to ensure we know our potential supporters and to protect our integrity and reputation.
- We comply with the law and we scrutinize foreign funding. To protect our independence and reputation and to ensure we are in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, we have established a process by which the Nominating and Governance Committee of the Atlantic Council’s board of directors reviews and approves any potential funding from a government or state-controlled entity.