The Foundations and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex


The Foundations and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex
featuring G. Edward Griffin and Richard Grove

In this series we highlighted a number of examples of institutions which use their wealth and influence to exert real world power as they shape the world to their liking. These institutions include non-profits, think tanks, philanthropic organizations, charities, and Non-Governmental Organizations, or NGOs, which ostensibly act in the interest of the public good. These institutions, what we will refer to as The Foundations, are a part of what has recently come to be known as the Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

The nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC) has been referred to as the the network of privatized nonprofits that provide social service, usually with financial aid from corporations and the government. It can also be described as “a system of relationships between, the State, the ultra wealthy, the foundations, and non-profit/NGOs social service & social justice organizations that results in the surveillance, control, derailment, and everyday management of political movements”. These tax-exempt foundations leverage wealth to fund or create movements which will follow their dictates, whether consciously or unconsciously.

What is The Non-Profit Industrial Complex?

The term was popularized by the book The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, a collection of essays by activists, educators, and non-profit staff from around the world. The essays were gathered together by the the INCITE! collective. The organization, which describes itself as a collective of radical feminists of color, had first hand experience learning that their revolution would not be funded. The organization took a trip to India with funding from the Ford Foundation and met many activist organizations who were accomplishing great things in their community without foundation grants.

“When we saw that groups with much less access to resources were able to do amazing work without foundation funding, we began to question our reliance on foundation grants,” the group wrote. This revelation lead to the The Revolution Will Not Be Funded anthology and a 2004 conference which examined the history of non profits in an attempt to better understand how to organize in service of communities in need.

The essays offer a wide range of criticisms of the NPIC, including that the government uses non-profits to monitor and control social justice movements; diverts public monies into private hands through foundations; manage and control political dissent; redirecting activist energies into the non-profit career rather than grassroots community organizing capable of actually transforming society; and allows corporations to mask their exploitative practices through “philanthropic” work. Critics say this world of foundations masked as philanthropy causes nonprofits to become more invested in the agenda of their benefactors rather than in the communities they claim to serve. Activists complain that once they join the world of the NPIC they spend their time and energy writing grants seeking money from big corporations and donors. Some activists feel this is the only way to get funding for projects as opposed to continuously asking the community for funding.

The first eight chapters of our investigation has examined a number of these foundations which contribute to the NPIC. For example, we uncovered how the Rockefeller Foundation and their General Education Board, as well as the Carnegie Foundation used their funds to shape the direction of education around the world. We saw the Rockefeller Foundation shape the direction of public health, and the Gates Foundation carry on this tradition as seen by their immense influence on international health policy during the COVID19 crisis. Finally, we also revealed how the Rockefeller Foundation has played an outsized role in designing the food systems around the world and continues to attempt to shape policy as evidenced by their recent Reset the Table initiative.

Remember that Reverend Frederick T. Gates, the business advisor to John D. Rockefeller Sr. who helped him found the Rockefeller’s General Education Board wrote in his book, The Country School of To-morrow:

“In our dream we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk.  We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science.  We are not to raise up among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters.  We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians.  Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply.

For the task we set before ourselves is very simple as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to a perfectly ideal life just where they are.”

The Rockefeller funding of the General Education Board, later absorbed as part of the Rockefeller Foundation, was able to carefully craft education policy which achieved the goals of the Foundation, and not necessarily the goals of the teachers and parents.

Just as Rockefeller and his network of philanthropic organizations sought to influence and shape the direction of public education, they also sought to influence the medical schools across the country. While the Rockefeller family used the General Education Board to manipulate America’s education system, they also created the “International Education Board” to invest their money into national and international universities and medical schools which focused on drug based research. While the Rockefeller’s played a large role influencing the medical schools and universities, it was the assistance of the Carnegie family that helped transform the industry via their funding the infamous Flexner Report. In 1905, steel billionaire Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, or simply, The Carnegie Foundation. The Foundation was granted an official charter by the US Congress in 1906, just as was done with the Rockefeller’s General Education Board.

The Rockefeller Foundation is still funding and guiding much of public health policy, but now they are joined by Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation. Gates has spent the last two decades mimicking the practices of the Rockefeller’s and ingratiating himself into nearly every aspect of global health. He is the #1 non-state funder of the World Health Organization, a huge contributor to Johns Hopkins, the Wellcome Trust, and many other powerful health and medical organizations. Gates has continued the focus on treating symptoms of diseases and promoting vaccines. Together, the Gates and Rockefeller families and their partners in pharmaceutical firms are using the COVID19 crisis as an opportunity to cement themselves as the de facto leaders and policy makers despite not being employed by the governments who follow their orders.

We have also outlined how the Rockefeller Foundation funded the so-called Green Revolution and the push for dangerous pesticides and Genetically Engineered Foods. In 1943, Norman Borlaug, a plant geneticist, and his team of researchers traveled to Mexico and jumpstarted this shift. Borlaug was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The actions taken by the Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Gates Foundations perfectly illustrate the problems of the non-profit industrial complex.

Now, we must examine the role played by Non-Governmental Organizations.

NGO’s as Weapons of Control

Non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, are defined as organizations independent from government, typically a non-profit, serving some sort of humanitarian cause. Now, it should be obvious that not every NGO, think tank, or foundation is working against the will of the people. However, without a doubt there are examples of these institutions being used to push agendas of foreign governments or militaries.

Let’s focus on the National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, and the United States Agency for International Development, or US AID. These organizations purport to be independent of government and only serving philanthropic causes but history bears out a much different reality.

Both US AID and the NED have been linked to countless regime change efforts abroad, including Egypt in 2013 and Ukraine in 2014. Journalist Tony Cartalucci reports on the deep ties between NED and the national security apparatus:

“But the NED board of directors includes many, many other characters with open ties to corrupt corporate-financier interests and proven track records of eagerly promoting war and enabling US-backed regime change around the globe.

The National Endowment for Democracy is using the “promotion of democracy” as that smokescreen while engaged in political interference and regime change abroad in the pursuit of serving the corporate interests represented by the board of directors and those who fund NED directly.”

The NED was created as a non-profit corporation via funding from the USAID, which has also been accused of being a tool for conducting activities favorable to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) under the guise of providing foreign aid. Both organizations have been involved in funding “activist” movements in countries which do not align with U.S. policy.

In 1986 The New York Times reported:

“The concept of the endowment took shape as the country moved from the dark self-doubts after the Vietnam War into a new era of confidence in its own virtues and a conviction that democracy should be supported publicly and proudly, without the secrecy that tainted the C.I.A.’s activities.

‘We should not have to do this kind of work covertly,” said Carl Gershman, president of the endowment, who was an aide to Jeane J. Kirkpatrick when she was the chief United States delegate to the United Nations. ‘‘It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the C.I.A. We saw that in the 60’s, and that’s why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that’s why the endowment was created.”

Mr. Gershman says that there is no contact between the C.I.A. and the endowment and that before grants are made, a list of the potential recipients is sent by the endowment through the State Department to the C.I.A. to be sure none of them are getting covert funds.”

As part of a 2010 investigation by ProPublica, Paul Steiger, then editor in chief of the outlet, said “those who spearheaded creation of NED have long acknowledged it was part of an effort to move from covert to overt efforts to foster democracy”. Steiger cited a 1991 interview with then-NED president Allen Weinstein as evidence. In the interview Weinstein stated, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA. The biggest difference is that when such activities are done overtly, the flap potential is close to zero. Openness is its own protection.”

Critics have long compared USAID and NED funding Nicaraguan groups in the 1980s and 90s to the efforts of the CIA to overthrow governments throughout Latin America in the 1950s and 60s

Now that we have a deeper understanding of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex and the ways in which NGOs can be tools for regime change, we need to look deeper into the past to find the origins of these intersecting issues.

The Origins of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

In April 1954, the 82nd U.S.Congress convened the Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations, known as the Reece Committee, to study foundations to see if they were involved in “unAmerican and subversive activities; for political purposes; propaganda, or attempts to influence legislation.” The Committee was led by Representative Carrol Reece and focused on investigating the big foundations of the day, including the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Carnegie Foundation. The final report of the committee was submitted by Chief Investigator Norman Dodd, who stated that these foundations were funding projects at Columbia, Harvard, University of Chicago, and University of California, with the goal of promoting oligarchical collectivism.

Before we dive deeper into the consclusions of the Reece Committee, it’s important to note that this investigation was the 3rd investigation of its type over a period of 40 years. The Walsh Commission, also known as the Commission on Industrial Relations, studied industrial work conditions throughout the United States between 1913 and 1915. In 1916 the Walsh Commission published an eleven volume report, with tens of thousands of pages of testimony from a wide range of witnesses, including Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller Jr. While the report was focused on the issue of labor exploitation it also looked at concenrtrations of economic power and the role of charitable foundations in being used as “instruments of power concentration”.

Louis D. Brandeis, a lawyer who served as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939, testified that he was gravely concerned with the growth of the foundations. Brandeis testified that the foundations power had grown into a State within the State “so powerful that the ordinary social and industrial forces existing are insufficient to cope with it”. He said this system of foundations was “inconsistent with our democratic aspirations.”

During John D. Rockefeller Jr’s testimony he was asked about the power of foundations to influence independent thought and action. Rockefeller said influencing the public was possible, but there should be no public restrictions on the foundations. He called for “Academic freedom” and “complete independence” in the use of funds given to educational institutions. In response to this Chairman Frank Walsh warned that granting of funds for schools might result in “persons being educated taking the viewpoint, consciously or unconsciously, of the man or the foundation that gave the money.”

The final report of the Walsh Commission concluded, “As regards the “foundations” created for unlimited general purposes and endowed with enormous resources, their ultimate possibilities are so grave a menace, not only as regards their own activities and influence but also the benumbing effect which they have on private citizens and public bodies, that if they could be clearly difierentiated from other forms of voluntary altruistic effort, it would be desirable to recommend their abolition.”

Unfortunately, the recommendations were not followed and another committee was convened in 1952, two years before the Reece Committee. This Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations, also known as the Cox Committee named after Representative Edward E. Cox, also investigated the Foundations. The Cox Committee was rather limited in scope and resources. Thus, in 1954 the Committee was revived by Representative Carrol Reece.

Attorney Rene Wormser was general counsel to the Reece Committee. He drafted the final majority report of the committee and published his findings in the 1958 book, ”Foundations, Their Power and Influence”. In the preface to the book, Rep. Reece wrote that the obstacles to the committee included the “influential “liberal” press, characterized by The New York Times, the New York Herald, Tribune, and the Washington Post-Times Herald”, who he said threw their “editorial power” against the Committee. Reece also said the “bulk of the conservative press could not be unmindful of the enormous power of these foundations”. Reece warned that the “group of prominent men whose decisions would have to be judged (by the committee’s investigation) extended even to intimates of the White House”. Reece said that the investigation revealed that “an unparalleled amount of power is concentrated increasingly in the hands of an interlocking and self-perpetuating group.”

Reece notes that a 1954 article in the New York Daily News reported that the committee had the “almost impossible task” of telling “the taxpayers that… the huge fortunes piled up by such industrial giants as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Henry Ford were today being used to destroy or discredit the free-enterprise system which gave them birth.”

In his book, Mr. Wormser outlines how the Reece Committee used primary sources of foundation grants, such as The Ford Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, and The Carnegie Corporation of New York, and examined secondary distributors of grant moneys, especially organizations such as The Social Science Research Council, The Institute of Pacific Relations, and The American Council on Education, which are supported by the major foundations. The investigation therefore included colleges, hospitals, churches, and other institutions which were recipients of money from foundations.

The Committee divided the organizations into three groups: those which are purely granting foundations; those which use their money for their own research and operations known as operating foundations); and those which might be called “intermediaries,” “clearing houses” or “retailers” for other foundations. These charitable tax exemptions were intended to advance the public welfare by offering exemption for philanthropic purposes. Wormser notes that “the increasing tax burden on income and estates has greatly accelerated a trend toward creation of foundations as instruments for the retention of control over capital assets that would otherwise be lost”. In other words, from the very beginning of the creation of these foundations very wealth families were using them to avoid taxes, redistribute their wealth, and influence the public.

“Some of our largest foundations, established before the introduction of Federal income and estate taxes, were created largely to glamorize a name not previously identified as conspicuously charitable,” Wormser wrote. For example, Wormser notes that if the Ford Family hadn’t created a foundation they would have been forced to sell a large part of their ownership of the Ford Company to pay the hundreds of millions of dollars in estate taxes they would be expected to pay upon the deaths of Henry and Edsel Ford. By creating a foundation there were able to escape estate taxes on 90% of the fortune and retain voting control of the company.

The investigation also dug into the then-emerging field of “social sciences” and the ways in which the foundations were influencing education and political affairs. “It is in the fields of education, international affairs and what are called, the “social sciences” that the greatest damage can be done to our society. For this reason the Reece Committee confined its inquiry almost entirely to these areas,” Reece wrote.

In the end, Wormser believed the main contribution of the committee was to “expose instances in which the promotion of political ends, favored by foundation managers, had been disguised as charitable or educational activity.”

When the report was released to the public it was largely ignored or derided. Critics accused the committee of falling into paranoia and wasting time and money. Most major media failed to report on the actual conclusions of the Reece Committee and their warnings of attempts to promote oligarchical collectivism.

The only journalist who bothered to report on the topic in a substantial manner, was G. Edward Griffin. Griffin is known for his work exposing the Federal Reserve System and the Medical Cartel. Griffin interviewed Norman Dodd, who was the congressional Director of Research for the Reece Committee, regarding his work for the Committee and the final report.

G. Edward Griffin Interview

Norman Dodd interview with Griffin

As disturbing as the revelations exposed by Dodd, Reece, and Griffin were, they are not the only dark truths relating to non-profits and foundations. 

The Round Table Groups

In an upcoming episode of this series we will tackle the issue of so-called Secret Societies, but for the moment, let’s take a look at claims that certain public facing non-profits and foundations actually operate as representatives for groups which operate in the shadows.

These groups, commonly known as Round Table Groups, were first outlined by American historian and former Georgetown University Professor Dr. Carrol Quigley in his book Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. In the book Quigley outlines the history of Western Civilization from 1860 to 1963. However, Quigley’s version of events is based on the archives of the Council on Foreign Relations, one of America’s oldest foundations which works to steer international political affairs. In I, as well as the book The Anglo-American Establishment, Quigley outlines how a secret group was seeking to shape American policy to bring it back under the control of the fading British empire.

Forensic historian Richard Grove, host of the Grand Theft World podcast and creator of the Tragedy and Hope website, has been studying the Round Table Groups and the work of Carrol Quigley for over a decade.

Richard Grove Interview

This history highlights how British miner and South African politician Cecil Rhodes worked with Alfred Milner in 1891 to found what would come to be known as the Round Table Groups. The facilitation and directing of these groups would change hands over the years, but it was the death of Rhodes and his wills which created the Rhodes Scholarship program at Oxford University which has been used as a method to recruit new members of the Round Tables and disseminate their ideas and accomplish their goals internationally. Using the round table group strategy, this loose organization of powerful interests operated with a hidden inner circle and a public outer circle. Many members of the Round Table Groups have participated in the Rhodes Scholar program before going on to positions of power and influence in government, finance, media, and the private sector.

The groups include the Royal Institute of International Affairs (also known as Chatham House), the aforementioned Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and more recently, groups like the World Economic Forum. While most of the groups Quigley mentions tend to be associated with the left-wing of American politics, there are also secretive organizations which carry a Conservative focus, including the Council for National Policy, which has often been compared to the CFR. Tragedy and Hope also discussed the role of leaders of the central banks of several nations and how the international banking cartel plays a major role in shaping public policy. We will explore this claim in an upcoming episode of this series.

While Quigley did criticize certain interpretations of his work, he also openly acknowledged that there was a conspiracy at work. In Tragedy and Hope, Quigley writes:

“This radical Right fairy tale, which is now an accepted folk myth in many groups in America, pictured the recent history of the United States, in regard to domestic reform and in foreign affairs, as a well-organized plot by extreme Left-wing elements … This myth, like all fables, does in fact have a modicum of truth. There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in the way the Radical right believes the Communists act. In fact, this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other group, and frequently does so. I know of the operation of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960s, to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments. I have objected, both in the past and recently, to a few of its policies… but in general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known.”

Richard Grove Interview:

More than 70 years has passed since the warnings from Norman Dodd, Carrol Reese, and the Walsh Commission, and more than 50 years since Carrol Quigley exposed the Round Table Groups. Needless to say, the warnings were not heeded and the power of the Foundations has only grown and become more influential on the public. However, in that time, the public has become even more ignorant to the ways in which these organizations influence and shape our world. The Gates Foundation is now one of the largest and most influential foundations, and the Rockefellers continue to hold massive sway. What will it take to break the hold these corrupt institutions have on the minds of the masses?


If we aim to break free from the grip of the Foundations and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex we need to rethink the way we do activism and charity. As noted from the activists in the book The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, working within the non profit or philanthropic space in the hopes of bettering your community or improving the world, is a noble venture, but it might not always produce the results you desire. If your activism is solely based on working within these structures we highly encourage you to recognize that grassroots activism, outside of the non-profit sector can be equally valuable. While the community may not have the millions of dollars that the Foundations offer, there are many exciting opportunities to fund projects and accomplish goals.

For example, in 2015, I had the opportunity to visit Detroit and learn about the community crowdfunding and micro-financing program known as Detroit SOUP. For $5 attendees gain entry to an event with music, homemade soup, and 4 presentations from local community members. The presentations are focused on projects which could empower the local community directly. The attendees listen to the presentation, enjoy a bowl of soup, and then vote on their favorite project. At the end of the evening the project with the most votes is awarded the collected money to help them achieve their goals. This project has inspired other cities to take up similar efforts.

When it comes to the large foundations which use their wealth and influence to manipulate our worlds we ought to consider ending any financial support of these foundations, as well as any of their beneficiary organizations. If any organization is taking money from these foundations educate them about the dangers posed by these organizations. Make it clear you will not support them if they take money from these dangerous Foundations.

If you do desire to contribute to charitable or philanthropic organizations, do your research. Investigate the organizations you are considering supporting and find out about their business relationships, their projects, and the ways in which they use their funds. For starters, you can visit the World Economic Forum website and check their partners to see if you are supporting any of the foundations serving their agendas.

In an upcoming episode we will dive deeper as we explore what exactly is meant by “oligarchical collectivism”. Remember that with all pieces of this Pyramid we need to take personal responsibility. We need to make a diligent effort to be aware of what we are supporting with our dollars and time. If we blindly continue to support these Foundations under the assumption that they are doing some good in the world, we are only hurting ourselves, and we only have ourselves to blame.

To learn more about The Foundations, The Non Profit Industrial Complex, and the Round Table Groups we recommend reading:

Foundations: Their Power and Influence by Rene A. Wormser

and The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Behind the Non-Profit Industrial Complex by INCITE

Tragedy and Hope, and The Anglo-American Establishment by Carrol Quigley

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