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Financial Information

Commitment to our Philanthropic Values

The Annenberg Foundation values responsiveness, transparency, accessibility, fairness and excellence in the organizations that we support. We seek to reflect these values in our financial reporting and with the financial information that we share here on our website.


The Annenberg Foundation is a private family foundation. Our four-person Board of Directors includes founder Walter Annenberg’s daughter Wallis Annenberg, and three of her adult children – Lauren Bon, Gregory Annenberg Weingarten and Charles Annenberg Weingarten. The Board of Directors appoints independent professionals with expertise in investing, accounting and financial reporting to serve on the Foundation’s Investment and Audit Committees. These Committees report to the Board but are not part of the Board. Volunteers on these committees are not compensated. Instead, they can direct a fixed dollar amount in grants to nonprofit organizations of their choice.

The Annenberg Foundation is required to comply with several regulations and requirements:

  • As a nonprofit registered in California with gross income of $2 million or more, we must have an annual audit by an independent auditor. After each calendar year end, we prepare annual financial statements that are audited by our external auditors (currently Grant Thornton LLP). These statements are reviewed and approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors and Audit Committee, then filed with the states of California and Pennsylvania. 
  • As a tax-exempt private foundation, we must prepare and file an annual Form 990-PF Return of Private Foundation and the annual Form 990-T Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return. The 990-PF is an IRS document that includes information about the Foundation’s governance, operations, programs and financial information. The 990-T is an IRS document that provides information about the Foundation’s investment income. Our auditors, the Board of Directors and the Audit Committee review the Foundation’s Forms 990-PF and 990-T before the forms are filed with the United States Department of Treasury (Internal Revenue Service), the State of California and the State of Pennsylvania.  
  • As a nonprofit public benefit corporation, we are required by the California Nonprofit Integrity Act to make our audited financial statements available to the public. As an exempt organization, we are required by the IRS to make our Forms 990 available to the public. We post our annual audited financial statements and Forms 990 to our website as soon as they are completed. These key documents for our fiscal year ending December 31 cannot be completed until fall of the following year, when final investment results are available from our investment partners. Please refer to end of this section for links to our financial and tax filings for fiscal 2010 – 2014.

Information on our annual grant making is available right after each calendar year end. Please refer to the Interactive Grants Map in the Grantmaking section of our website for recent and historical grant information.

  • As a private foundation, we are required by the IRS to distribute (pay out) at least 5% of the value of our net investment assets (as defined by IRS regulations) each year for charitable purposes. Qualified distributions for this purpose include grant payments as well as expenses paid and assets purchased for charitable activities. We calculate and report the required distributable amount and our actual qualifying distributions in Part XI, Line 7 and in Part XII, Line 6, respectively, of the Form 990-PF. The Annenberg Foundation has traditionally distributed more each year than the required 5%. 
  • As a private foundation, we must pay federal excise taxes on our annual net investment income. We must also record deferred federal income tax when our investments rise in value, in anticipation of taxes that will be owed when an appreciated investment is sold. We make estimated excise tax payments each quarter. Our 2014 excise taxes on net investment income, reported in Part VI, Line 1 of our 2014 Form 990-PF, totaled $571,374. We were not required to record additional deferred federal income taxes owed for 2014.

2014 Financial Overview

As of December 31, 2014, the Annenberg Foundation’s total assets were valued at $1.66 billion. Our endowment portfolio, which is invested to generate income to support our grant-making and direct charitable activities, represented $1.58 billion of this figure. Our total assets at 12/31/14 also included $46.8 million of assets held in trust for others and $36.1 million of net property and equipment, inventory, and prepaid excise taxes.

In 2014, the Foundation committed to fund 510 new grants, with a total of $76.5 million approved. Some, but not all, of these new grant commitments were paid out during 2014. The Foundation disbursed $71.7 million in grant payments on 570 grants during the same period. This $71.7 million includes payments on grants pledged prior to 2014 and on grants pledged during 2014.

In addition to the $71.7 million of grant payments during 2014, the Foundation paid out $42.4 million (cash basis) to support our direct charitable activities and $11.9 million (cash basis) to purchase assets used for charitable purposes. Our total cash basis qualifying charitable disbursements during 2014 were $125.9 million. These cash basis disbursements, illustrated in the graph below, are further detailed in our 2014 Form 990-PF, Part I, Column d, the link to which is at the end of this section.

Our 2014 Audited Financial Statements include $46.9 million of non-grant expenses. This accrual figure includes noncash expenses such as depreciation. The $42.4 million Charitable Activities cash disbursement figure shown in the pie chart above does not include any non-cash expenses, and is reported in Part I, Line 24, Column d of our 2014 Form 990-PF.  The table below outlines and reconciles these two different ways we are required to report these expenses. 

Accrual Basis: 2014 Audited Financials Non-Grant Expenses: $46.9 Million
Less:  2014 Non-Cash Depreciation/Amortization Expense: ($4.4 Million)
Less:  2014 Net Accrual vs. Cash Adjustment ($0.1 Million)
Cash Basis: 2014 Form 990-PF Charitable Disbursements:  $42.4 Million

Private foundations must distribute (pay out) at least 5% of the value of their net investment assets (as defined by IRS regulations) each year for charitable purposes. The Foundation’s 2014 total adjusted qualifying distributions represented 7.7% of the Foundation’s net investment assets. We were required to distribute $80.9 million in 2014; our actual adjusted qualifying cash distributions were $125.4 million. The two graphs below show the Foundation’s annual cash distributions in dollars and as a percentage of our net investment assets over the past seven years.


Actual vs. Required Cash Distributions


 % of Assets Distributed vs. Required Distribution % 


Note: In 2012, $43 million from a grant paid in a prior year was returned to the Foundation. This unusual one-time occurrence significantly increased our required cash distributions that year. Since we had paid out more than the required distribution amounts in prior years, we were able to apply those prior year excess pay outs as credits to comply with the distribution requirements. 

Direct Charitable Activities

The sole focus for most foundations is granting funds to qualified nonprofit organizations. The Annenberg Foundation is a little different. In addition to our extensive grant making activities, we also operate several strategic programs. These charitable programs are described in detail in our Form 990-PF and are summarized below.

The Annenberg Space for Photography® and Skylight Studios™ are dedicated to exhibiting and highlighting compelling photography. Admission to both spaces is free. ASP is the first solely photographic cultural destination in Los Angeles. Its intimate environment features state-of-the-art, high-definition digital technology as well as traditional and digital prints by some of the world’s most renowned and emerging photographers. ASP informs and inspires the public by connecting photographers, philanthropy and the human experience through powerful imagery and stories. Complementary programming at the adjacent Skylight Studios augments the ASP exhibits. Skylight Studios serves as the venue for multi-media content and events, including lectures, documentaries from ASP’s past exhibits, Meet & Greets and workshops. These events, all offered at no charge, deepen the connection and accessibility between photographers and public guests.

Annenberg Learner, formerly Annenberg Media and the Annenberg CPB Program, advances excellent teaching in American schools by creating and distributing multimedia resources for teacher professional development and classroom use. To produce these video, web, and print-based resources, Annenberg Learner contracts with award-winning multimedia producers working with academic and professional development experts in each discipline.  Annenberg Learner distributes these multimedia educational resources in hard copy format (print guides and DVDs) and through its website, www.learner.org. All resources including video, audio, text materials, and interactive exhibits can be accessed at no cost through learner.org. The site was one of the top three most used for teacher professional development, based on Google searches, and also received traffic from educational websites and blog referrals including edweek.com, techlearning.com, education-portal.com, openculture.com, linkeduplibrarians.edublogs.org and scores of others. 

Metabolic Studio LLC is an organization focused on paradigm shifts, producing devices of wonder to create the potential for transforming social, political, and physical brownfields into healthy and productive living systems. The Studio concentrates on areas within the arts, civics and community, agriculture and environment, disaster relief, and veterans’ issues. Major projects include free public programming with the Historic State Park in downtown Los Angeles, work with homeless veterans at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center property (VA-WLA), community projects in the Owens Valley area where the Los Angeles Aqueduct begins, and a Los Angeles River-based collaboration with over 25 governmental permitting agencies that includes construction of a 70-foot water wheel to lift and deliver water along the Los Angeles River corridor. 

Explore LLC is a philanthropic multimedia project whose mission is to champion the selfless acts of others, create a portal into the soul of humanity and inspire lifelong learning. Explore showcases the work of individuals and non-profit organizations around the world through documentaries, short films, photographs, live cams, web content and social media. Explore uses the explore.org portal as well as non-profit partner sites, film festivals, online distribution such as Hulu and Youtube, educational programming accessible through cable and satellite television, library distribution and social media to connect people, ideas, communities and cultures.

Ballona Urban Ecology Center was designed to provide exhibits and programming that highlighted key aspects of the interface between the flora and fauna of the Ballona Wetlands in the context of the greater Los Angeles urban ecosystem. During 2013, the Annenberg Foundation collaborated with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Coastal Conservancy and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission on the planning of this urban ecology center on a portion of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Los Angeles. The planning and design team studied the project and prepared necessary reports, drawings, and other forms of input to the project team preparing the joint Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other entitlement materials for the overall project.  The Foundation decided to suspend our continuing involvement with the project in late 2014 because the development timeline and entitlement process for the project proved more lengthy than originally anticipated and resulted in the Foundation’s reevaluation of resource allocation to the project.

Financial Reports and Tax Filings