The Carthage Foundation, the Allegheny Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Scaife Family Foundations collectively comprise the Scaife Foundations. Primarily under the direction of Richard Mellon Scaife, the Scaife Foundations contributed more than $1 billion to charity over a fifty-year period, adjusted for inflation. The lion’s share of that money – about $620 million, according to Scaife – went towards “influencing American public affairs,” according to Jane Mayer’s 2016 book Dark Money. The money – given primarily to conservative causes – was a result of the Family’s founding interests in Mellon banking, Alcoa aluminum, and Gulf Oil. In Dark Money, Scaife was identified by a conservative reporter as the “originator” of hard-hitting conservative philanthropy.

Of the organizations, the Carthage Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation are the most politically active of the two, while the Allegheny Foundation mostly contributes to historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania, and the Scaife Family Foundation contributes to social welfare and animal cruelty organizations.

In addition to the foundations, the Scaife family was able to take advantage of a tax law (also used by the Koch brothers’ father, Fred) which allowed passing vast sums of money on to descendants untaxed, so long as the money was saved in trusts and interest received on that money was annually donated to charity for a period of time. (In Scaife’s words, “Isn’t it grand how tax law gets written?”) This set-up allowed Scaife to donate over a period of twenty years to a variety of conservative causes (and to his own family’s foundations which then donated the money to the conservative causes) using?? the interest on three trusts with more than $250 million dollars in combined assets.

The Sarah Scaife Foundation, Mayer writes, drawing from an unpublished autobiography by Richard Mellon Scaife, was formed just “days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It appears to have been timed to shelter the family’s wealth from anticipated tax increases.” The impetus in avoiding taxes would place the foundation among what amounts to a family tradition stemming from Andrew Mellon’s early battles against the income tax.

Scaife was an early benefactor of the Heritage Foundation, contributing more than $23 million from 1975 to 1998. In the 1990s, Scaife poured millions into a quixotic campaign against the Clintons. He made contributions of $2.4 million to the American Spectator magazine from 1993 through 1997, with $1.8 million dedicated to the “Arkansas Project,” the ultimate goal of which was to find scandalous “information about the activities of Mr. Clinton and his wife, Hillary, during their years in Arkansas.” Scaife became obsessed with various drummed-up (by his money) scandals during the Clinton years. Eventually Scaife’s obsession focused on the suicide of Clinton aide Vincent Foster, which he described as “the Rosetta Stone to the whole Clinton Administration.”

Scaithe eventually ended funding to the Spectator and vowed to never give the magazine another cent after it published a scathing review of a book by Christopher Ruddy which claimed Foster was murdered. Three independent investigations concluded Foster’s death was a suicide. At that point, the conspiracy theorizing and, along with it, Scaithe’s money moved to Accuracy in Media, which was still promoting the conspiracy theory as late as 2004. However, Scaife apparently befriended the Clintons later in life, with President Clinton eulogizing him at a memorial service and Ruddy indicating that Scaife believed that Clinton “had served the American people most ably as president.” Mayer indicates that Scaife’s “almost childlike impressionability” helped the thaw.

Prior to his funding of Heritage and the Spectator, Scaife “had been the largest donor to the American Enterprise Institute,” but switched his loyalty to Heritage given Heritage’s willingness to weigh in on political fights. In 1990, Mayer reports, Scaife personally pushed Heritage – despite his own checkered marital history – into focusing “more on conservative social and moral issues and in particular family values.” Scaife was also, for a time, the largest donor to the Manhattan Institute. Mayer writes, “The donations paid off, from Scaife’s viewpoint, when they helped launch the careers of the conservative social critic [Charles] Murray and the supply-side economics guru George Gilder, whose arguments against welfare programs and taxes had huge impacts.”

Edwin Meese III, President Ronald Reagan’s attorney general and a Heritage fellow, described Scaife as “the unseen hand” of the conservative movement. The Washington Post, in a 1999 profile, called him the “funding father” of the right, while confirming that, to that point, Scaife had contributed $620 million to “conservative causes and institutions.” The Post writes:

His money has established or sustained activist think tanks that have created and marketed conservative ideas from welfare reform to enhanced missile defense; public interest law firms that have won important court cases on affirmative action, property rights and how to conduct the national census; organizations and publications that have nurtured conservatism on American campuses; academic institutions that have employed and promoted the work of conservative intellectuals; watchdog groups that have critiqued and harassed media organizations, and many more.

View Financial Record
Grants In
Grants Out
Total Expenses
12013$67,210,520$6,956,091$0$2,138,400$2,843,843View 990
22013$36,673,519$1,207,929$0$1,220,000$1,727,490View 990
32013$320,817,214$14,107,168$0$12,327,500$14,268,969View 990
42012$272,650,661$17,541,882$0$12,481,500$14,649,753View 990
52012$79,224,592$3,198,296$0$4,196,000$5,199,658View 990
62012$31,236,737$3,635,082$0$1,005,000$1,625,633View 990
72012$55,943,723$7,489,466$1,000,000$2,368,000$3,119,075View 990
82011$263,578,943$15,000,453$0$13,111,500$15,354,812View 990
92011$71,888,342$1,831,138$0$2,043,000$2,979,907View 990
102011$29,879,716$397,385$0$365,000$950,789View 990
112011$52,011,982$2,697,485$0$3,910,000$4,460,906View 990
122010$255,540,386$14,817,843$0$13,601,500$15,954,775View 990
132010$76,454,275$1,262,710$0$2,083,144$2,973,577View 990
142010$26,390,356$-580,202$0$602,500$1,277,438View 990
152010$49,479,642$2,164,522$2,088,879$4,829,000$5,355,881View 990
162009$243,990,427$711,936$0$13,447,500$15,696,838View 990
172009$70,966,750$786,753$0$1,763,412$2,655,028View 990
182009$24,309,711$3,449,584$0$240,000$1,003,446View 990
192009$47,138,307$10,545,077$4,198,438$4,067,000$4,669,040View 990
202008$229,797,663$6,403,282$0$20,909,000$23,310,036View 990
212008$59,352,064$-335,814$0$3,004,893$3,897,547View 990
222008$21,961,616$2,714,295$2,000,000$3,415,000$4,095,407View 990
232008$39,377,657$9,921,403$2,000,000$5,212,400$5,734,700View 990
242007$312,596,952$29,801,425$0$18,228,500$20,814,169View 990
252007$88,762,564$7,997,264$0$4,416,771$5,295,534View 990
262007$31,335,194$5,329,212$0$1,867,500$2,668,418View 990
272007$54,990,394$11,655,846$3,000,000$4,080,500$4,717,766View 990
282006$305,786,196$20,868,175$0$15,823,000$18,372,295View 990
292006$87,465,105$9,332,335$0$3,301,777$4,165,614View 990
302006$30,108,877$5,631,853$3,000,000$4,227,500$5,025,690View 990
312006$51,520,996$5,143,784$1,000,000$2,211,800$2,724,133View 990
322005$289,533,932$14,998,082$0$13,871,000$16,197,272View 990
332005$84,016,540$7,132,336$0$3,433,543$4,124,668View 990
342005$27,623,535$5,885,778$5,000,000$5,855,500$6,464,818View 990
352005$47,002,956$2,831,067$1,000,000$2,294,500$2,726,049View 990
362004$294,140,676$12,509,132$0$12,224,500$14,918,992View 990
372004$83,554,783$3,344,214$0$3,408,488$4,020,464View 990
382004$26,262,050$7,557,721$5,944,850$6,126,000$6,696,979View 990
392004$43,156,164$3,156,367$1,000,000$1,364,000$1,750,962View 990
402003$288,652,965$9,285,347$0$16,040,000$18,485,239View 990
412003$81,989,324$2,828,071$0$2,653,197$3,211,549View 990
422003$24,050,911$7,229,050$3,654,275$3,663,500$4,192,004View 990
432003$38,862,681$564,197$0$1,482,300$1,831,003View 990
442002$267,797,656$9,359,374$0$12,322,000$14,670,875View 990
452002$75,293,495$943,003$0$2,514,000$3,216,411View 990
462002$21,379,950$7,684,220$7,357,983$5,552,500$6,020,474View 990
472002$32,189,890$1,738,090$0$963,100$1,291,359View 990
482001$323,029,669$34,034,474$0$16,405,000$18,911,339View 990
492001$91,422,569$8,719,217$0$3,429,400$4,104,265View 990
502001$23,705,949$5,618,441$3,499,415$3,452,000$3,853,679View 990
512001$40,398,096$-209,110$0$845,500$1,180,991View 990
522000$108,063,816$11,964,738$0$9,301,935$10,059,486View 990

6,762 transactions on record as a donor, filed under these 4 entities:

Ordered By: Year (Newer to Older)

1Allegheny FoundationAllegheny Institute for Public Policy$125,0002012+
2Allegheny FoundationAmerican Chestnut Foundation$25,0002012+
3Allegheny FoundationAmerican Chestnut Foundation$20,0002012+
4Allegheny FoundationAmerican Legislative Exchange Council$50,0002012+
5Allegheny FoundationAmerica's Survival$150,0002012+
6Allegheny FoundationBill of Rights Institute$35,0002012+
7Allegheny FoundationBoys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania$40,0002012+
8Allegheny FoundationBrownsville Area Revitalization Corporation$35,0002012+
9Allegheny FoundationCareer Connections Charter High School (Pittsburgh PA)$3,0002012+
10Allegheny FoundationCarnegie Free Library (Connellsville PA)$25,0002012+
11Allegheny FoundationCenter for Equal Opportunity$25,0002012+
12Allegheny FoundationCity of McKeesport$50,0002012+
13Allegheny FoundationDavid Horowitz Freedom Center$150,0002012+
14Allegheny FoundationExtra Mile Education Foundation$10,0002012+
15Allegheny FoundationExtra Mile Education Foundation$50,0002012+
16Allegheny FoundationFayette County Community Action Agency$25,0002012+
17Allegheny FoundationFoundation for Free Enterprise Education$25,0002012+
18Allegheny FoundationFrick Art & Historical Center$110,0002012+
19Allegheny FoundationTree Pittsburgh$25,0002012+
20Allegheny FoundationGreater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank$200,0002012+
21Allegheny FoundationGrove City College$75,0002012+
22Allegheny FoundationImani Christian Academy (Pittsburgh PA)$50,0002012+
23Allegheny FoundationInstitute of World Politics$100,0002012+
24Allegheny FoundationLight of Life Ministries$25,0002012+
25Allegheny FoundationLincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research$50,0002012+
26Allegheny FoundationManchester Bidwell Corporation$150,0002012+
27Allegheny FoundationMon Yough Community Services$100,0002012+
28Allegheny FoundationPennsylvania Right To Work Defense & Education Foundation$25,0002012+
29Allegheny FoundationPennsylvania Trolley Museum$100,0002012+
30Allegheny FoundationPhilanthropy Roundtable$15,0002012+
31Allegheny FoundationPittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation$100,0002012+
32Allegheny FoundationPittsburgh Public Theater$30,0002012+
33Allegheny FoundationReading is FUNdamental Pittsburgh$10,0002012+
34Allegheny FoundationRiver City Brass Band$50,0002012+
35Allegheny FoundationRosedale Block Cluster$25,0002012+
36Allegheny FoundationSalvation Army - Western Pennsylvania Division$50,0002012+
37Allegheny FoundationWestmoreland County Food Bank$75,0002012+
38Allegheny FoundationWestmoreland Museum of American Art$210,0002012+
39Allegheny FoundationYoung America's Foundation$100,0002012+
40Allegheny FoundationYoung America's Foundation$50,0002012+
41Sarah Scaife FoundationActon Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty$40,0002012+
42Sarah Scaife FoundationAllegheny Institute for Public Policy$115,0002012+
43Sarah Scaife FoundationAmerican Bar Association$230,0002012+
44Sarah Scaife FoundationAmerican Civil Rights Institute$75,0002012+
45Sarah Scaife FoundationAmerican Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research$175,0002012+
46Sarah Scaife FoundationAmerican Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research$400,0002012+
47Sarah Scaife FoundationAmerican Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research$25,0002012+
48Sarah Scaife FoundationAmerican Foreign Policy Council$125,0002012+
49Sarah Scaife FoundationAmerica's Future Foundation$40,0002012+
50Sarah Scaife FoundationAtlantic Legal Foundation$75,0002012+
Contributions from private foundations and other nonprofit entities are based on a review of publicly available Forms 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service. For more information about our methodology, visit our about page.