The Dark Side of Philanthropy: A Look at Tax-Exempt Donations to White Supremacists
Two weeks before the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, about 300 white supremacists converged outside Nashville with far less fanfare. The occasion was the annual American Renaissance conference, where speakers celebrated the rising political fortunes of white nationalism and discussed the movement’s future.
Several of those speakers belong to the shadowy world of nonprofits that espouse white supremacy. Associates of three of the most influential organizations in this space, the Charles Martel Society, New Century Foundation and VDare Foundation, addressed attendees. Over recent years, these groups have pulled in a small but steady stream of tax-exempt donations to produce white nationalist propaganda designed to dress up racist ideology with the veneer of intellectualism.
This is important because events like the rally in Charlottesville don’t happen in a vacuum. Writing and messaging that cloaks white supremacy in academic babble and pseudoscience helps to pave the way to radicalization. And these days, like everything else, recruitment for fringe groups, from Neo-Nazis to ISIS, happens online, where these nonprofits’ publications live.
All three organizations are registered as tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofits with the IRS. All three are characterized as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Under current law, individuals and corporations can make unlimited anonymous donations to nonprofits. Groups engaged in controversial work, and the donors behind them, can easily cover their tracks. But while we don’t know where, specifically, these three white supremacist nonprofits get their money, based on their tax forms, we do know how much they've raised in recent years and how they've spent it. Here's a closer look.