A new report released by today by Transparify shows that the US's 21 top think tanks broke the billion-dollar spending barrier in 2013, highlighting how massive the think tank industry has become.
Here is more from Transparify:
The 21 think tanks in the sample collectively spent over one billion dollars in 2013, probably for the first time in history, and employed a total of 7,333 people, including part-time employees. Their total net assets grew 8% to USD 2.65 billion.
Many individual think tanks in the U.S. are larger than the entire sector in most other countries of the world. The median think tank in our sample had a revenue of USD 39m, expenditures of USD 32m, held assets worth USD 87m, and had 211 employees.
The full report can be read here. And some cool visualizations can be found here.
According to the new report, the ten largest think tanks by expenditure in 2013 are:
- RAND: $275 million
- Brookings: $97 million
- Heritage: $82 million
- Urban Institute: $75 million
- Council on Foreign Relations: $62 million
- World Resources Institute: $48 million
- German Marshall Fund: $38 million
- National Bureau of Economic Research: $36 million
- Center for American Progress: $34 million
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: $33 million
According to the report, the ten largest think tanks by assets in 2013 are:
- Brookings: $404 million
- Council on Foreign Relations: $377 million
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: $275 million
- RAND: $239 million
- AEI: $178 million
- German Marshall Fund: $176 million
- Heritage: $154 million
- Urban Institute: $120 million
- National Bureau of Economic Research: $102 million
- Wilson Center: $98 million
The report also has a section that compares revenue from 2012 to 2013. It shows that several think tanks had more than a 25% drop in revenue during that one-year period, including the Peterson Institute for International Economics (-27%), Council on Foreign Relations (-28%), Cato Institute (-34), and Center for Global Development, which had a 50% decline in revenue.
Think tanks that had more than a 25% increase in revenue from 2012 to 2013 include: New America Foundation (+29%), German Marshall Fund (+41%), Atlantic Council and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (both at +45%).
But as Transparify points out, it is important to note that year-to-year revenue changes may be the result of fluctuations, such as inflow or draw-down of multi-year funding. Thus, one should take single-year revenue increases and decreases with a grain of salt.
The report also includes a nice chart of the ten largest think tanks by number of employees.
Here is more from Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ).