Why don’t you reveal all your funding?


We respect the privacy rights of donors to donate to charity without being publicly identified. Reasons for privacy rest with donors but include modesty, personal security, or a desire to avoid being aggressively targeted for donations by other organisations.

In a free society people should be free to associate with whomever they like and back any cause, without fear or favour. This has been widely recognised as a bedrock of democracy, both in the UK, the EU, and elsewhere. Indeed, attempts to force organisations to reveal their membership lists were a key part of the attack on the civil rights movement in the US.

In our view, the principle of privacy matters as much as the principle of transparency. This is particularly important for the IEA because our staff often defend positions on subjects such as the NHS or Brexit with which others strongly disagree. As a result, they have at times been subject to extreme personal abuse, or worse. See this BBC clip for independent commentary on this.

We have no desire to risk exposing our supporters to similar attacks, including from groups that encourage ‘direct action’ against companies and individuals of whose activities they disapprove.

There is also a presumption in the question that think tanks should be regulated differently to other charities, perhaps more like active participants in elections or agency lobbyists. But we are neither. We are explicitly prohibited from expressing support for individuals or parties in elections. Our donations and any campaigning are regulated to common standards across the charity sector.


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