The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Founded in 1921, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy and has no affiliation with the U.S. government. Visit this page to learn more about CFR.
CFR’s main activities, as summarized in its Mission Statement, are
CFR's website is a nonpartisan source of analysis and context on international events and trends. CFR.org publishes backgrounders, interviews, "first-take" analysis, expert blogs, and multimedia offerings that include videos, podcasts, interactive timelines, and the Emmy-winning Crisis Guide series. The site also presents the work of CFR's think tank, including books, reports, congressional testimony, and op-eds, as well as audio, video, and transcripts of CFR events. Each weekday morning, the Daily News Brief delivers subscribers a digest of global news and analysis compiled by CFR.org's editors.
CFR is incorporated under New York State law. Its Board of Directors provides overall direction, and Richard N. Haass, the Council's president and a former senior government official, leads daily operations. Carla A. Hills, chair and chief executive officer of Hills & Company and former U.S. trade representative, and Robert E. Rubin, former secretary of the treasury, are co-chairs of CFR's Board of Directors, while David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of The Carlyle Group is the vice chair.
CFR is first and foremost a membership organization. With over 4,900 members, CFR's roster includes government officials, scholars, business leaders, journalists, lawyers, and other distinguished nonprofit professionals. CFR's membership is divided almost equally among those living in New York, Washington, DC, and across the country and abroad.
CFR membership is composed of members and term members. The Stephen M. Kellen Term Member Program, established to cultivate the next generation of foreign policy leaders, encourages promising young women and men from diverse backgrounds to engage in a sustained conversation on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. Each year a new class of term members between the ages of thirty and thirty-six is elected to serve a five-year term. The official roster of CFR members is listed on the website and in the annual report.
Quality, diversity, and balance are the main objectives sought by CFR in the composition of its membership. Criteria for membership include intellectual attainment and expertise; degree of experience, interest, and current involvement in international affairs; promise of future achievement and service in foreign relations; potential contributions to CFR's work; desire and ability to participate in CFR activities; and standing among peers.
CFR membership is restricted to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States who have applied to become citizens. Candidates for term membership must be between thirty and thirty-six years of age on January 1 of the year of the application deadline.
Candidates for membership must complete an online application and be nominated in writing by one CFR member and seconded by a minimum of three other individuals (maximum of four). Candidates for term membership must be nominated in writing by one CFR member and seconded by a minimum of two other individuals (maximum of three). Click here for more information about member selection procedures.
CFR's Corporate Program provides a forum for business leaders to interact with noted thinkers and practitioners in government, policy, academia, and business through invitations to exclusive events, direct engagement with CFR experts, and access to CFR's members-only website. To find out if corporate membership would benefit your company, contact the Corporate Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.434.9684.
CFR's annual operating revenue comes from the following sources (FY14 data):
|Gifts and grants:|
|Annual fund and other unrestricted gifts||16%|
|Foundation grants (restricted)||12%|
|Corporate grants (restricted)||2%|
|Other grants (restricted)||8%|
|Dues: individual members (unrestricted)||10%|
|Dues and related income: Corporate members (unrestricted)||10%|
|Rental income and miscellaneous||4%|
For a fuller breakdown of the sources of CFR's annual revenues, please see CFR's Funding Sources.
No. CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. Rather than advocate, CFR is dedicated to being a resource on foreign policy issues. It does this by conducting research through the work of its Studies Program; publishing the bimonthly magazine Foreign Affairs; maintaining a website that is a source of analysis and context on international issues; and contributing to the foreign policy discussion by convening events.
No. CFR is an independent, nongovernmental, nonprofit, and nonpartisan organization. Learn more here. The following studies explain CFR's history:
No. On its website, CFR publishes the results of its scholars' research and Independent Task Forces, its annual report, the audio, video, and transcripts of its on-the-record meetings, numerous blogs, as well as information about the organization's initiatives. News and analysis is also shared with CFR's Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and YouTube channel subscribers. Sign up for CFR newsletters and bulletins here.
CFR publishes the bimonthly magazine Foreign Affairs, widely considered to be the most influential magazine for the analysis and debate of foreign policy. Its website, ForeignAffairs.com, publishes original daily features and hosts the magazine's complete archives dating back to 1922.
The David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's think tank—is composed of more than seventy full-time and adjunct and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows") who cover the major regions and significant issues shaping today's international agenda. The program also includes recipients of several one-year fellowships.
The Studies Program is organized into more than a dozen program areas and centers that focus on major geographical areas of the world or significant foreign policy issues, including the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, the Center for Preventive Action, and the International Institutions and Global Governance program.
CFR holds various member events throughout the year that fall under the general rubric of "meetings." Meetings usually feature panels of experts or single speakers with a moderator. Speakers engage in conversation with the moderator, or in some cases they may deliver a brief speech. Every meeting includes a question-and-answer session with the assembled audience. CFR meetings typically last one hour. Other CFR events include roundtables, symposia, workshops, and conference calls.
CFR meetings are usually held on a not-for-attribution basis to encourage frank and candid discussion. This means that participants are welcome to make use of the information received at the meeting, but neither the identity of the speakers nor that of any other participant may be revealed, nor may anyone cite a CFR meeting as the source of the information.
Some CFR meetings are conducted on an on-the-record basis, which means the information imparted at the meeting can be used by all participants. The transcripts and/or audio and video of these meetings are posted on CFR.org. These resources are accessible to both the interested public and to members who are not able to attend the meeting.
Only CFR members and invited guests may attend meetings. Accredited media are invited to cover select on-the-record events. The proceedings of on-the-record CFR meetings are available on CFR.org as transcripts, webcasts, videos, and audio streams.
CFR is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and is publicly supported as described in 509(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code. CFR's IRS identification number is 13-1628168. Contributions payable to CFR are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. To learn more and to donate to CFR, please click here.
For more information about ways you can support CFR, please contact Betsy R. Gude at email@example.com or 212.434.9788.
Membership Application Deadlines: November 1 and March 1
Term Membership Application Deadline: January 3, 2017
Membership in the CFR Corporate Program is tailored to meet the needs of your organization. To learn more, please visit the About Corporate page, view a printable brochure, and see our current list of members.
To find out if Corporate membership would benefit your company, contact the Corporate Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.434.9684.
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Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2015 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass.
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