CFR's Funding Sources

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.

One way CFR maintains its independence is through a diversity of funding sources. These include member dues; annual giving by members (in recent years, over one-third of CFR members have chosen to participate); corporate memberships; Foreign Affairs magazine (subscriptions, advertising, events); grants from foundations, corporations, and individuals; investment returns from its endowment; and rental income from outside use of CFR's New York and Washington facilities.

Funding Sources for CFR as a Whole

The breakdown of sources for CFR’s $69 million annual revenue is as follows (FY16 data). Note: "Unrestricted" funds can be used for any purpose across the organization. "Restricted" funds must be used to support a particular purpose or project.

  • Gifts and Grants:
    • Annual Fund and other unrestricted gifts: 16%
    • Foundation Grants (restricted): 9%
    • Corporate Grants (restricted): 2%
    • Other grants (restricted): 14%
  • Endowment draw: 25%
  • Foreign Affairs: 13%
  • Dues: individual members (unrestricted): 9%
  • Dues and related income: Corporate members (unrestricted): 10%
  • Rental income and miscellaneous: 3%

Funding Sources for the David Rockefeller Studies Program

The breakdown of the $13.9 million support specifically for the David Rockefeller Studies Program (CFR’s “think tank”) is as follows (FY16 data):

  • Gifts and Grants:
    • Foundation Grants (restricted): 36%
    • Corporate Grants (restricted): 7%
    • Other grants (restricted): 15%
  • Endowment draw: 42%

More Information About CFR's Funding Policies

CFR is committed to independent, nonpartisan research and scholarship. The institution takes no positions on matters of policy. There is a wide range of views to be found on our website, from our scholars, in our meetings and conferences, and in the pages of Foreign Affairs.

CFR has longstanding funding policies in place to ensure its intellectual independence and integrity. Donors may not direct the outcome of any research or event, and those who fund chairs are not involved in the selection of scholars to fill those posts. CFR does not accept funding from corporations for individual research projects. Additionally CFR has strict conflict-of-interest policies in place for its directors, officers, and scholars.

CFR does not accept funding from foreign governments. The organization also does not accept money from the U.S. government except to cover some of the costs of up to six visiting fellows each year who are employees of the U.S. government and spend an academic year at CFR’s New York office.

Foreign Affairs magazine accepts advertising and sponsorship from corporations and governments. All advertising and sponsorship is clearly identified; advertisers and sponsors have no influence over editorial decisions or articles appearing in the magazine. Foreign Affairs is also editorially independent from CFR.

CFR is a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization and all contributions are fully deductible within the limits of the law. A full list of donors is published each year in conjunction with CFR’s annual report. CFR’s IRS Form 990 is available on Guidestar.

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