FAQs

What is the relationship between Sierra Club and The Sierra Club Foundation?

The Sierra Club Foundation (TSCF) is an independent 501(c)(3) public charity which supports a variety of conservation programs and organizations. The Sierra Club Foundation is the fiscal sponsor of the Sierra Club's charitable environmental programs. The Sierra Club is the principal, though not exclusive, recipient of the Foundation’s charitable grants. In 2010, TSCF made $38 million in charitable grants to the Sierra Club. On average, the Foundation supports approximately 80% of the Club’s conservation budget. TSCF granted $9 million to non-Sierra Club entities in 2010. The Sierra Club Foundation relies on the generosity of thousands of individual donors across the country to help TSCF fund hundreds of worthwhile conservation projects nationwide. The Foundation ensures that our donors’ financial support is used appropriately and effectively to further our charitable mission. By law, The Sierra Club Foundation retains control and discretion/variance power over all charitable funds received, including how they are disbursed within the purposes for which they were contributed, and the unilateral right to select those recipients TSCF believes will best accomplish those purposes.

The Sierra Club is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. As such, gifts to Sierra Club are not tax-deductible. This status allows Sierra Club to engage in legislative lobbying and political advocacy to a much greater extent than most other groups. Sierra Club is able to advocate for strong environmental laws and candidates at the municipal, state, and federal level because of its unique structure. The Club and the Foundation maintain a robust compliance operation to ensure that no charitable funds from the Foundation are utilized for non-charitable purposes (unless permitted under TSCF’s 501(h) lobbying expenditure election.)
What’s the difference between Sierra Club’s Board and The Sierra Club Foundation’s Board?

Sierra Club’s Board of Directors is elected by the Sierra Club membership. The Club's Board of Directors sets Club priorities and policies and approves the national Club budget (with Club member input). The Sierra Club Foundation Board members are nominated and approved by the Board. The Foundation's Board of Directors carries out the core governance functions of the Foundation, ensures that the assets are managed appropriately, ensures that funds are expended in line with its charitable mission, provides fiduciary oversight of project fiscal sponsorship and grantmaking, and assists in expanding the organization’s reach and fundraising success.  

How do watchdog organizations view The Sierra Club Foundation?

The Sierra Club Foundation has a four star rating—the highest—from Charity Navigator, a watchdog group that evaluates charities for their organizational efficiency and capacity. Within the category of environmental charities, the Foundation is one of the highest rated, making the top 20 list. The Sierra Club Foundation received an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP). In addition to the Foundation, only three other environmental charities received AIP’s highest rating in 2010/2011. AIP is a nationally prominent charity watchdog service whose purpose is to help donors make informed giving decisions.

How can I make a memorial or commemorative donation?

To make a memorial or commemorative gift to The Sierra Club Foundation, please fill out this form and mail it in with your check. If you would prefer to make your donation using a credit card, you can call (415) 977-5653. An acknowledgement letter will be sent to you for tax purposes, and if you choose, we will send a letter to friends or loved ones close to the individual being honored, informing them of the gift. The gift amount will be kept confidential.

I lost the tax acknowledgement for my donation.  How can I get a replacement?

To receive a replacement acknowledgement for a tax-deductible gift to The Sierra Club Foundation, please send an e-mail containing your name, address, donation date, and donation amount to foundation@sierraclub.org. Please also let us know whether you would like to receive your replacement acknowledgement through e-mail or postal mail.   

How can I get my gift matched by my employer?

After making your donation, contact your company's Human Resources or Corporate Relations Department to obtain matching gift paperwork. Submit this to The Sierra Club Foundation, either online or through mail, depending on your company's matching gift process. The Sierra Club Foundation will confirm the amount of your gift with your employer, who will then forward a matching gift to The Sierra Club Foundation - doubling the value of your generous gift! Please visit our Matching Gifts page and contact matchinggifts.tscf@sierraclub.org if you have any questions. 

Why didn't I receive a Sierra Club membership with my donation to The Sierra Club Foundation?

The Sierra Club Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) organization and donations to The Sierra Club Foundation are considered charitable and tax-deductible. The Sierra Club Foundation therefore is unable to provide you with any goods, services, or other benefits, including Sierra Club membership, in exchange for your donation. However, complimentary Sierra Club membership through the John Muir Society is provided to donors making gifts of $1,000 or more to The Sierra Club Foundation, the Environmental Law Program, or the Sierra Club, consistent with IRS charitable giving rules regarding membership benefits. If you are interested in becoming a Sierra Club member or renewing your Sierra Club membership, please contact the Sierra Club’s Member Services Department at (415) 977-5653.

My organization would like to apply for a grant from The Sierra Club Foundation. Who should I contact?

The Sierra Club Foundation does not have an open application process. Grants to non-Sierra Club organizations are initiated by the Foundation only. Unsolicited proposals are not accepted.

 

The Sierra Club Foundation stewards charitable contributions and assets responsibly. We are proud to have earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator and an A+ from CharityWatch. Our high ratings from nonprofit watchdog organizations demonstrate our commitment to sound fiscal management, good governance, and commitment to accountability and transparency.