The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies is the Tiffany & Co. of think tanks, with a heady roster of boldface names from the security world such as Henry Kissinger, Frank Carlucci, Richard Armitage and Brent Scowcroft. As befits its stature, CSIS is well-funded. For fiscal year 2012, CSIS had an operating revenue of $33.2 million. Here's how the sources break down: 27 percent corporate, 27 percent foundation, 21 percent government, 11 percent individuals, 4 percent endowment, 10 percent "other."
Those figures are in the annual report. What’s not in the annual report—or on their website, or in their tax forms, or anywhere for public consumption—is who the funders are who are filling the deep pockets of CSIS.
CSIS received a single star [in the recent Transparify report rating think tank financial transparency], which would be great if they were a restaurant and Michelin was rating, but is not so good in Transparify's world. “A one-star think tank is categorized by ‘some donors listed, but not exhaustive or systematic’," said Lappin. “CSIS has not responded to Transparify, stating they were updating their websites for greater financial transparency, and so CSIS is not in the ‘updating’ category.
“Thanks for your query. As a matter of policy we don't provide such information,” said an email from the iPhone of H. Andrew Schwartz, senior V.P. for external relations.
Inside Philanthropy has outlined some of CSIS's funders, and says that "some analysts believe that CSIS is star-struck-out because they get oodles of money from defense contractors and the US government itself."
Andrew Schwartz, Vice President for External Communications at CSIS, says that the think tank's funding transparency policy is "under review."
CSIS was recently ranked as the 4th best think tank in the world by the annual university of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, and as the world's top defense and national security think tank.