Annual Reviews

The RBF’s Annual Reviews provide readers with annual highlights of the Fund’s programs, grantmaking, and finances as a reflection of our commitment to accountability, transparency, and sustainability. Each year, we focus on an issue central to the Fund's mission.


Civil society efforts supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund secured notable victories in 2023. But the victories of 2023 were earned in the face of increasing pressure on civil society organizations worldwide. Foundations that support these organizations aren’t immune from the pressures they face, but we are often insulated from the most painful impacts. With that privileged position comes a responsibility to remain steadfast in our support, even in the grimmest moments. 


The five sons of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. each brought his own set of interests in establishing the RBF, which became its guiding principles: passion for the arts, protection of the environment, importance of civic participation, and commitment to international engagement. The big steps the RBF took in 2022 are rooted in those longstanding commitments.


After the tumultuous year it followed, 2021 brought both fresh hope and renewed uncertainty. We leaned into our decades of experience to remain responsive and nimble, and our grantees refused to allow the threats on the horizon to paralyze them.


The global COVID-19 pandemic upended nearly every human life in 2020. As ordinary distractions gave way to that singular focus, we saw the world a little more clearly.


The RBF aims to use its full array of assets—its endowment, its reputation, its name, its offices and The Pocantico Center,  its expertise, and its history—to advance our mission. In the 2019 Annual Review, Executive Vice President Gerry Watson reflects on the success of this “assets-all-in” approach, evidenced by the results of our five-year path of divestment. The review also provides a snapshot of the Fund's key statistics from 2017–2019.


In the 2018 annual review, RBF President Stephen Heintz asks how foundation philanthropy can disentangle itself from the infrastructure of economic inequality that gave birth to it and suggests ways that the sector can begin to correct the balance between capitalism and democracy. The review also provides a snapshot of the Fund's key statistics from 2016–2018.


In the 2017 annual review, RBF President Stephen Heintz reflects on prior challenges to the Fund's vision for a sustainable and peaceful world in the context of the year's shifting political landscape and notes that social progress requires a reenergized democratic spirit. The review also provides a snapshot of the Fund's key statistics from 2015–2017.


The 2016 annual review contains an essay by RBF President Stephen Heintz laying out his 'Logic of the Future' for a new global ethos of fairness, sharing, and caring. It also contains commemorations of David Rockefeller and Abby M. O'Neill, two past leaders of the Fund who passed away in early 2017.


The Fund marked its 75th anniversary in 2015 by reflecting on common themes from its history. The Fund also continued with its fossil fuel divestment efforts and detailed its Mission-Aligned, ESG, and Impact investment strategies.


Following much discussion by the Fund's staff and trustees, in 2014, the Fund announced it would divest its endowment from fossil fuels. The decision was based on twin imperatives: the moral obligation of doing everything we can to help prevent catastrophic climate change and an economic necessity of looking long term as an institutional investor.