Celebrating 30 years of helping you give wisely
America's most independent,
assertive charity watchdog
Top Rated

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

CharityWatch report issued
February 2021

Top-Rated Charity
CharityWatch Grade
Our independent grade based
on a number of factors.
Program Percentage
Amount spent on programs
relative to overhead.
Cost to Raise $100
Amount spent to raise
$100 of contributions.

Contact Information

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
40 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011

Other Names


Tax Status




Stated Mission

To safeguard the Earth: Its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.

View similar charities
African Wildlife Foundation  
Alaska Conservation Foundation  
Amazon Conservation Team  
American Bird Conservancy  
American Farmland Trust  
American Forests  
American Rivers  
Appalachian Mountain Club  
Arbor Day Foundation  
Center for Biological Diversity  
Chesapeake Bay Foundation  
Conservation Fund  
Conservation International Foundation  
Cousteau Society  
Defenders of Wildlife  
Ducks Unlimited  
Earth Island Institute  
Environmental Defense Action Fund  
Environmental Defense Fund  
Environmental Working Group  
Friends of the Earth  
Gaia-Movement Living Earth Green World Action USA  
Global Green USA  
Green America  
Greenpeace Fund  
Izaak Walton League of America (National Office)  
Keep America Beautiful (National Office)  
League of Conservation Voters  
League of Conservation Voters Education Fund  
National Audubon Society  
National Forest Foundation  
National Park Foundation (NPF)  
National Park Trust  
National Parks Conservation Association  
National Wildlife Federation  
Nature Conservancy  
NRDC Action Fund  
Ocean Conservancy  
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy  
Rainforest Action Network  
Rainforest Alliance  
Resources for the Future  
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation  
Save the Redwoods League  
Sierra Club  
Sierra Club Foundation  
Solar Cookers International (SCI)  
Southern Environmental Law Center  
Student Conservation Association  
The Wilderness Society  
Trout Unlimited (National Office)  
Trust for Public Land  
Union of Concerned Scientists  
Waterkeeper Alliance  
World Resources Institute  
World Wildlife Fund  
Yosemite Conservancy  
Data based on Fiscal Year Ended 06/30/2019

Program Percentage: 79%

The percentage of Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)'s cash budget it spends on programs relative to overhead (fundraising, management, and general expenses).


Calculated Total Expenses



Cost to Raise $100: $11

How many dollars Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) spends on fundraising to raise each $100 of contributions.


Calculated Total Contributions


Joint Costs

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)'s rating was adjusted for Joint Costs. If you are a donor who considers direct mail, telemarketing, and other Joint Cost solicitations to be true charitable programs, the below efficiency ratios, which were not adjusted for joint costs, may better reflect your goals.

Program % Cost to Raise $100
82% $8
Accounting rules allow charities to report some telemarketing, direct mail, and other solicitation costs as Program expenses. CharityWatch believes that most donors do not consider a charity's solicitation activities to be the Programs they are intending to support with their donations. We therefore adjust such expenses out of a charity's reported Program expense and add it to Fundraising expense prior to calculating its rating.

Government Funding

0% to 24%

Percentage of cash revenue
coming from government sources


Financial Documents

Entity Document Type Tax ID
Natural Resources Defense Council IRS Form 990 13-2654926
Natural Resources Defense Council Audited Consolidated Financial Statements Multiple
Entity: Natural Resources Defense Council
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 13-2654926
Entity: Natural Resources Defense Council
Document Type: Audited Consolidated Financial Statements
Tax ID: Multiple

Governance & Transparency

CharityWatch evaluates certain criteria related to a charity's Governance and Transparency. Donors may want to consider a charity's willingness to be open and transparent with CharityWatch to be a good litmus test for determining its commitment to public accountability.
This charity is Top-Rated
What does it mean to be Top-Rated?
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
meets governance benchmarks.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
meets transparency benchmarks.
Provides Financial Information
Audit Accessibility
Governance: Policies
Reports regularly & consistently monitoring & enforcing compliance with a written Conflict of Interest Policy
Reports required, annual disclosure by officers, directors, and key staff of interests that could give rise to conflicts
Reports having a written Whistleblower Policy
Reports having a written Document Retention and Destruction Policy
Governance: Financials
Reports providing copy of tax form to all board members prior to filing it with IRS
Reports that financial statements were audited by an independent accountant
Governance: Board of Directors
Reports at least 5 voting board members
51% or more of voting board members reported as independent
Reports documenting minutes of board and board committee meetings
Privacy Policy
Privacy Policy

  Name Title Compensation
1 Rhea Suh President $566,996
2 David Hawkins Senior Attorney III $401,220
3 Mitchell Bernard Executive Director/Chief Counsel $367,215
Name: Rhea Suh
Title: President
Compensation: $566,996
Name: David Hawkins
Title: Senior Attorney III
Compensation: $401,220
Name: Mitchell Bernard
Title: Executive Director/Chief Counsel
Compensation: $367,215

CharityWatch Analysts perform an in-depth analysis of charities' audited financial statements and IRS tax filings, and often review other documents such as state filings, annual reports, and fundraising contracts during their evaluations. Below are select notes that CharityWatch believes may be of interest to donors.

CharityWatch's rating of Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is for the 501(c)(3) public charity, which has offices in New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Montana, as well as in Beijing, China, according to Note 1 of the NRDC consolidated audit of June 30, 2019.

CharityWatch's rating of NRDC does not include the financial activities of the NRDC Action Fund, which is a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt, social welfare organization that is an affiliate of NRDC. "The Action Fund works to build the political support we need in the United States to protect the planet and its people," according to Note 1 of the NRDC consolidated audit of June 30, 2019. CharityWatch provides a separate rating for NRDC Action Fund (tax ID #13-3976062).

CharityWatch separates the ratings for 501(c)(3) & 501(c)(4) organizations, even when they are included together in a consolidated audit, due to their differing treatments under the IRS tax code. For more information on this topic, please see our sections on Types of Non-Profits, Tax Status, and Treatment of Related Organizations, which can be found on the Our Process page.

For more information about things to consider when donating to organizations that have related public charity and social welfare entities, read "Sorting Out Nonprofit Pairs" in the "Articles & Alerts" section, below.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) tax filing for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019, NRDC reports receiving donated services and use of facilities on which it placed a value of $5,786,881 (IRS Form 990, Schedule D, Part XI). In addition, NRDC reports receiving contributions of non-cash items in fiscal 2019 on which it placed a value of $18,919 (IRS Form 990, Schedule M).

[Note: CharityWatch generally excludes the value of in-kind (non-cash) donations of goods and services from its calculations of Program % and Cost to Raise $100. More information on how grades are calculated and the treatment of in-kind donations can be found on the Our Process page.]

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) tax filing for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019, NRDC reports re: Business Transactions Involving Interested Persons (IRS Form 990, Schedule L, Part IV):

"Board of Trustees member, Wendy Neu, has an ownership interest in a building in which NRDC leases space. The annual rent under the lease agreement is $420,567 per year. The aforementioned transaction was entered into by both parties at arm's length and the lease terms are determined by utilizing current market rates" (IRS Form 990, Schedule L, Part V).

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) tax filing for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019, NRDC reports re: Compensation, Supplemental Information (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part III):

Regarding nonfixed payments to officers, directors, trustees, key employees and highest compensated employees (Schedule J, Part I, Line 7):

"The Natural Resources Defense Council occasionally issues bonuses to individuals reported on the Form 990, Schedule J. These bonuses are usually merit based and are contingent upon the employee meeting certain objective performance-based criteria."

NRDC reports "Bonus & incentive compensation" for one individual in calendar year 2018:  $8,371 received by Mercedes Falber, Chief Human Resources Officer. Her reported total compensation in 2018 is $276,409 (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part II).

Related External Articles