Tides (organization)

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Tides logo.png
Motto What's Possible
Founded 1976
Founder Drummond Pike
Method Donor-advised fund
Endowment $116,000,000 (2011)[2]
Mission To work toward a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world[3]
Website www.tides.org

Tides is a public charity that directs money to politically liberal causes.[4] Founded in 1976 in San Francisco, Tides provides money to organizations working to advance progressive policy in areas such as the environment, health care, labor issues, immigrant rights, gay rights, women's rights and human rights.[5][4] It also offers fiscal sponsorships and management services and manages two centers in San Francisco and New York that offer collaborative spaces for social ventures and other nonprofits.

Since 1996, Tide has overseen the Tides Center, which is an incubator for smaller progressive organizations.[6] In 2004, Tides formed the Tides Shared Spaces offshoot which specializes in renting office space to nonprofit tenants.[7] In 2008, Stephanie Strom referred to Tides Network as the umbrella organization for these entities.[8]


Tides was founded in 1976 by Drummond Pike, who worked with Jane Bagley Lehman, heir to the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company fortune.[9] Lehman served as the chair of the organization from its founding to her death in 1988.[10] Tides was conceived as a nationally oriented community foundation, and founded out of Pike's frustration with established philanthropy's perceived neglect of progressive issues.[5] Drummond founded a similar organization, Tides Canada, in 2000.[11]

Tides grew to become the most frequently used donor-advised fund for wealthy West Coast liberals who did not want to start their own family foundations. By 2009, Tides allocated $75 million per year in donor money, most of which went to fund progressive political causes.[9] In 2011, Tides received about $90 million in funding, and awarded about $96 million to various individuals and organizations.[12]


Organizations that began as projects of Tides include Campaign to Defend the Constitution, Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, People for the American Way, Pew Internet and American Life Project, Rockridge Institute, Social Venture Network, Urgent Action Fund, and V-Day.[13] The Tides website lists 130 current grantees.[14] As Tides is a public charity, it allows sponsors to donate money to different organizations—including for-profit as well as nonprofit entities—through donor-advised funds.[15] Donor-advised funds are funds held in accounts by nonprofit organizations, like Tides, that then make grants to third-party entities on the donor's behalf.[16] Organizations that have partnered with Tides to setup these funds include Girl Rising and the Humble Bundle.[17][18]

In 2000, Tides launched a program called "Bridging the Economic Divide." It focused on funding living wage campaigns and economic justice coalitions. Tides also launched the Tides Death Penalty Mobilization Fund, which supports the anti-death penalty movement. The Michigan Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence was founded with support from Tides.[19]

Tides has received at least $3.5 million from financier and political activist George Soros.[20]

From 2003 to 2012, Tides gave around $4.4 million to media advocacy organization Media Matters for America.[21] It has stated that it supports the Occupy Wall Street movement. The CEO of Tides, Melissa L. Bradley, stated in a blog post on October 2011 that the movement "represents the best of American ideals and ingenuity."[22]

The Advocacy Fund[edit]

Tides is affiliated with the Advocacy Fund, a liberal lobbying group.[23] In the 2012 election cycle, the Advocacy Fund gave $11.5 million to 501(c)(4) organizations, including $2 million to the League of Conservation Voters, $1.8 million to America Votes and $1.3 million to the Center for Community Change.[4] The Advocacy Fund has also supported the environmentally-focused groups Bold Nebraska, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, NRDC Action Fund, and the Sierra Club.[24]

In 2008, the Advocacy Fund contributed to campaigns opposing Colorado Amendment 46, Colorado Amendment 47, Colorado Amendment 49 and Colorado Amendment 54.[25] The Advocacy Fund distributed $11.8 million in grants in 2013 to groups promoting immigration reform, increased worker protections, chemical safety legal reform, and increased investment in the solar energy industry.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Contact Us". Tides. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Administrative Fees for Donor-Advised Funds". Philanthropy Daily. May 27, 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Anheier & Leat 2006, p. 55.
  4. ^ a b c Blumenthal, Paul (April 9, 2014). "Nothing Really Compares To The Koch Brothers' Political Empire". Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b McCarthy & Faber 2005, p. 133.
  6. ^ "Social Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award Ceremony". UC Santa Cruz. 2016. Retrieved 2017-06-24. 
  7. ^ Duxbury, Sarah (2005-11-06). "Tides to lift other boats". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 2017-06-24. 
  8. ^ Strom, Stephanie (2008-08-16). "Head of foundation bailed out nonprofit group after its funds were embezzled". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-06-24. 
  9. ^ a b Callahan 2010, p. 265.
  10. ^ "Jane Lehman, 55; Active in Philanthropy". The New York Times. April 21, 1988. Retrieved June 18, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Canada Revenue Agency website, Tides Canada Foundation". Canada Revenue Agency. 
  12. ^ "Tides > Grantees". Tides. 
  13. ^ "History". Tides. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Project Directory". Tides. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Kellow 2007, p. 144.
  16. ^ "A philanthropic boom: "donor-advised funds"". The Economist. March 23, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2017. 
  17. ^ "What is the Girl Rising Fund?". Girl Rising. 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-24. 
  18. ^ "Humble Bundle Giving Fund at Tides Foundation". Humble Support. Retrieved 2017-06-24. 
  19. ^ Anheier & Leat 2006, p. 57.
  20. ^ "Is George Soros behind Occupy Wall Street?". Russia Today. October 14, 2011. 
  21. ^ Martosko, David (February 17, 2012). "Left-wing foundations lavish millions on Media Matters". The Daily Caller. 
  22. ^ Bradley, Melissa L. (October 12, 2011). "Why We Support the #OccupyWallStreet Movement". Tides. 
  23. ^ Choma, Russ; Vendituoli, Monica (July 22, 2013). "Advocacy Fund Spends Millions to Lobby on Immigration". OpenSecrets.org. Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  24. ^ Yachnin, Jennifer (December 11, 2013). "Still 'electing the best, defeating the worst' -- but with far greater resources than before". E&E Publishing. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  25. ^ "Tides Advocacy Fund". Follow The Money. National Institute on Money in State Politics. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  26. ^ Blumenthal, Paul (January 29, 2015). "Groups With Liberal Ties Tapped To Re-Elect The GOP Establishment". Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 


Anheier, Helmut K.; Leat, Diana (2006). Creative Philanthropy: Toward a New Philanthropy for the Twenty-First Century. Routledge. ISBN 9781134197651. 
Callahan, David (2010). Fortunes of Change: The Rise of the Liberal Rich and the Remaking of America. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470606544. 
Kellow, Aynsley J. (2007). Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science. Edward Elgar Publishing. ISBN 9781847208767. 
McCarthy, Deborah; Faber, Daniel (2005). Foundations for Social Change: Critical Perspectives on Philanthropy and Popular Movements. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780742549883. 

External links[edit]