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Policies Regarding Donors and Lobbying

The Heartland Institute is a publicly supported charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Its funding comes from tax-deductible contributions from approximately 6,000 individuals, foundations, and corporations.
 

People contribute to The Heartland Institute because they share our belief that better information and understanding can improve public policies in such important areas as education, environmental protection, and health care. For 32 years, Heartland authors have discovered and promoted free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

Heartland’s research agenda is determined by its mission, as interpreted by its Board of Directors and its staff. Heartland exists to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. All of our research is directed toward advancing that mission. We never compromise our principles to raise funds.

We have adopted the following policies to allow donors to have input into our programs without compromising the independence of our writers and scholars:

  • Heartland occasionally responds to requests for proposals (RFPs) issued by foundations, corporations, and individuals to conduct research on topics that are within our range of expertise and that have the potential to advance our mission. In those cases, donors influence the details of our research agenda, though not its general thrust or results. In such cases we do not surrender control over the peer review process, and Heartland retains the right to distribute whatever publications are created.
  • Heartland submits proposals soliciting gifts to support its work defending a free-market solution to a social or economic problem. Such proposals are not contracts or agreements to adopt positions on specific issues or to lobby on behalf of donors.
  • Donors may, upon request, participate in the peer review of research they help fund. Their comments are given no greater weight than those of other reviewers, and no more than the qualifications of their authors may merit.
  • The Heartland Institute does not reveal to the public the identities of its donors or the amount of their gifts. This confidentiality is allowed under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Donors are not given the opportunity to prevent the publication of research or insist on changes to it when such research turns out unfavorable to their interests. Heartland owns all of the results of its research programs, though that ownership may be shared with others.
  • As a courtesy to donors, we share with them advance copies of the studies they help fund, and we often solicit their advice on what audiences to target during promotional campaigns. We also provide donors with multiple copies of the studies they help fund for free or at reduced prices.


Elected officials are a key audience of The Heartland Institute, and Heartland staff members frequently speak directly with elected officials about the results of our research, which may be construed as lobbying. For these reasons, the following policies have been adopted regarding lobbying:

  • Members of the staff of The Heartland Institute are not allowed to participate in political campaigns. Individual staff members are asked to step down from their positions, either temporarily or permanently, if they choose to be involved in an election campaign.
  • Candidates for elected office may not serve as members of The Heartland Institute’s Board of Directors.
  • As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity, Heartland is allowed to devote a small percentage of its resources to lobbying. When we engage in lobbying, we report spending and time spent in Section H of our annual tax return, as required by the Internal Revenue Code.
  • To date, Heartland’s lobbying expenses have been trivial. Heartland only rarely undertakes activities that fall under the national government’s definition of lobbying, which (generally speaking) is to specifically ask for a “yes” or “no” vote on pending legislation. This most often takes the form of signing open letters circulated by our peers and allies.
  • Some members of Heartland’s staff are registered as lobbyists because this is required by some states before testimony can be offered. We do not concede that such testimony necessarily constitutes lobbying, and we maintain instead that the overwhelming share of time spent by our staff when communicating with legislators is purely educational, nonpartisan, and not lobbying.


These policies are posted on The Heartland Institute’s website in the “About” section and are regularly reviewed and updated by Heartland staff and members of Heartland’s board of directors. They reflect the “best practices” of nonprofit research organizations worldwide.

For more information, please contact Joseph L. Bast, president, Gwendalyn Carver, director of development, or Ken Braun, foundation manager at 312/377-4000, by e-mail at jbast@heartland.org, gcarver@heartland.org, and kbraun@heartland.org, or write to them at The Heartland Institute, 3939 North Wilke Road, Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004.

Development Team

Ken Braun
Foundation Manager
kbraun@heartland.org

Gwendalyn Carver
Director of Development
gcarver@heartland.org 

Wanda L. Davis
Executive Assistant to the President

Aaron D. Stover
Director of Development - Eastern Region
astover@heartland.org