The Niskanen Center strives to be a “gold standard” think tank in every manner possible, and that includes transparency. Accordingly, we choose to publicly disclose donations that are currently funding the Niskanen Center that are over $5,000 per year, and what policy departments or operations those donations are meant to support (if any). Exceptions are made for those who wish to remain anonymous.
The fundamental issue we want to address is the slowly deteriorating reputation of think tanks among journalists and public intellectuals, much of which is caused by suspicions that they are naked lobbying operations for corporate interests. Related concerns about foreign governments buying think tank influence are likewise increasingly rampant. As noted by On Think Tanks and Transparify, donor transparency is critical to ensuring trust in the political realm.
While transparency does not necessarily do anything about suspicions that a think tank is taking position x because of donors a (or b and c), it is certainly the case that transactional relationships are easier to execute without financial transparency.
We are proud to be associated with the individuals and foundations that provide the financial resources necessary for us to do our work, and grateful for their support. We encourage other public policy and advocacy groups to likewise publicly disclose their funding sources.