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Top Rated

Sierra Club Foundation

CharityWatch report issued
February 2019

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

Sierra Club Foundation
2101 Webster Street
Suite 1250
Oakland, CA 94612

Other Names


Tax Status


Stated Mission

Promotes efforts to educate and empower people to protect and improve the natural and human environment.

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Data based on Fiscal Year Ended 12/31/2017

Program Percentage: 88%

The percentage of Sierra Club Foundation'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 Sierra Club Foundation spends on fundraising to raise each $100 of contributions.


Calculated Total Contributions


Government Funding

0% to 24%

Percentage of cash revenue
coming from government sources


Financial Documents

Entity Document Type Tax ID
Sierra Club Foundation IRS Form 990 94-6069890
Sierra Club Foundation Audited Financial Statements 94-6069890
Entity: Sierra Club Foundation
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 94-6069890
Entity: Sierra Club Foundation
Document Type: Audited Financial Statements
Tax ID: 94-6069890

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?
Sierra Club Foundation
meets governance benchmarks.
Sierra Club Foundation
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 Opt-Out Policy  

  Name Title Compensation
1 Dan Chu Executive Director $237,921
2 Virginia Quick CFO $199,524
3 Henry Holmes Grants & Compliance Officer $116,696
Name: Dan Chu
Title: Executive Director
Compensation: $237,921
Name: Virginia Quick
Title: CFO
Compensation: $199,524
Name: Henry Holmes
Title: Grants & Compliance Officer
Compensation: $116,696

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 The Sierra Club Foundation is for the 501(c)(3) public charity (tax ID #94-6069890).

The affiliated Sierra Club, a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt, social welfare organization (tax ID #94-1153307), is rated separately by CharityWatch.

CharityWatch will issue separate ratings for 501(c)(3) & 501(c)(4) organizations, even when they are included together in a combined or consolidated audit, due to their different tax treatment by the IRS. 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, click on the "Articles & Alerts" tab (above), and read "Sorting Out Non-Profit Pairs."
According to The Sierra Club Foundation 2017 tax filing, the Foundation received donated in-kind software licensing on which it placed a value of $193,795 (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 Sierra Club Foundation (the Foundation) audit of December 31, 2017 (Note 16, Software Hosting Services):

"Software hosting services agreements entered into prior to 2016 were terminated and replaced with two new three-year agreements in October 2016, for the period November 1, 2016 through October 31, 2019 at a total cost of $2,721,771. The agreements are accounted for in accordance with ASU No. 2015-05, Intangibles -- Goodwill and Other -- Internal-Use Software (Subtopic 350-40). Under the terms of the fiscal sponsorship relationship with Sierra Club, they will share the use of the software hosting services and Sierra Club will reimburse the Foundation at fair value for the portion of the use that is not for qualified charitable expenditures. The reimbursement from Sierra Club was $1,029,948 and $1,386,785 during 2017 and 2016, respectively. Expenses relating to the hosting services have been categorized as fund-raising expense within the [audited] statement of functional expenses."
According to The Sierra Club Foundation audit of December 31, 2017 (Note 12, Transactions with related parties):

"The Foundation considers members of the Board of Directors, corporate officers, key employees, and their immediate family members to be related parties. ... Included in investments is a fund valued at $11,066,248 and $7,499,456 as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively, which is managed by a registered investment adviser whose founder and CEO is a member of the Board of Directors."
According to The Sierra Club Foundation (the Foundation) audit of December 31, 2017 (Note 13, Transactions with the Sierra Club and its Chapters):

"In accordance with a contract between the Foundation and the Sierra Club, the Foundation incurred $6,399,996 and $6,336,504 to reimburse the Sierra Club for fundraising expenses for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively."

"In accordance with the terms of the fiscal sponsorship relationship and an agreement between the Foundation and Sierra Club regarding the use of software hosting services, the two organizations share the use of the software hosting services, and Sierra Club reimburses the Foundation for the portion of the use that is not for qualified charitable expenditures. During the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively, Sierra Club paid $1,029,948 and $1,386,785, for the software services. See note 16 [parts of which are cited above in a separate Analysts' Note]."

"The Foundation receives certain gifts and makes grants on an advisory basis to the Sierra Club and its Chapters and groups. The Foundation made grants to the Sierra Club National Programs of $54,501,494 and $45,279,825 for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively, and to the Sierra Club Chapters of $7,706,652 and $7,556,515 for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively..."

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