Commitment to our Philanthropic Values
The Annenberg Foundation values responsiveness, transparency, accessibility, fairness, and excellence in the organizations that we support. In addition, we evaluate whether an organization has established best practices as it relates to diversity, financial sustainability, infrastructure, board governance, staff development, programs and services, collaboration, and networks with peers. 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, Chairman, President and CEO of the Foundation, and three of her adult children – Lauren Bon, Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, and Charles Annenberg Weingarten – all of whom serve as Co-Directors and Vice Presidents.
The Foundation’s Bylaws establish an Audit Committee and an Investment Committee. The Chairman and the Board of Directors appoint professionals with expertise in investing, accounting, and financial reporting to serve on these committees which report to the Board, but are independent of the Board. Volunteers on these committees are not compensated, but they can direct a fixed dollar amount annually 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 Foundationand 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 years 2013 – 2017.
Information about our annual grantmaking is available right after each calendar year.
- 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 4, 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. We report annual tax expense in Note A, Section 8 of our annual audit as well as on our annual 990-PF tax filing. Our 2017 federal excise taxes expense on net investment income was $230,401. Our 2017 deferred federal excise tax expense was $12,001,855, and the 2017 tax on unrelated business income from investments was $258,485.
2017 Financial Overview
As of December 31, 2017, the Annenberg Foundation’s total assets were valued at $1.6 billion. Our endowment portfolio, which is invested to generate income to support our grantmaking and direct charitable activities, represented $1.5 billion of this figure. As of the same date, our total assets also included $49.3 million of assets held in trust for others and $40 million of net property and equipment, inventory, and prepaid excise taxes.
In 2017, the Foundation committed to fund 795 new grants, with a total of $149 million approved. Some, but not all, of these new grant commitments were paid out during 2017. The Foundation disbursed $85.6 million in grant payments on 899 grants during the same period. This $85.6 million includes payments on grants pledged prior to 2017 and on grants pledged during 2017.
In addition to the $85.6 million of grant payments during 2017, the Foundation paid out $38.5 million (cash basis) to support our direct charitable activities, $6.9 million (cash basis) to purchase assets used for charitable purposes and $2 million for program-related investments. Our total cash basis qualifying charitable disbursements during 2017 were $133 million. These cash basis disbursements, illustrated in the graph below, are further detailed in our 2017 Form 990-PF, Part I, Column d, and Part XII, the link to which is at the end of this section.
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 2017 total adjusted qualifying distributions represented 8.7% of the Foundation’s net investment assets. We were required to distribute $75.2 million in 2017; our actual qualifying cash distributions were $133 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 five years.
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® (ASP) 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 multimedia content and events, including lectures, documentaries from ASP’s past exhibits, Meet and 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 nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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.