- Assets: $148,705- (negative) (2017)
- Grants Received: $4,162,238 (2017)
- Grants Awarded: $0 (2017)
- Tax-exempt foundation that owns Harper’s Magazine
- Created by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
- Headed by Rick MacArthur, publisher of Harper’s magazine and grandson of late John D. MacArthur
Operating as a subsidiary of William Reed Business Media Limited, the Harper’s Magazine Foundation (HMF) was established in 1980 when John “Rick” MacArthur and his father (Roderick MacArthur) persuaded the boards of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Atlantic Richfield Company to create and endow a Foundation whose purpose would be to acquire (for $250,000) and operate Harper’s magazine, which at the time was losing nearly $2 million per year and was on the verge of ceasing publication.
Rick MacArthur maneuvered to become the president of HMF in 1983. He also took over as publisher of Harper’s magazine and rehired its former editor, Lewis Lapham, who had been terminated from that post in 1981. Together, MacArthur and Lapham reshaped the magazine into what some have called a liberal “Reader’s Digest for intellectuals,” with shorter articles and quotable features such as the Harper’s Index of odd facts. Today HMF owns Harper’s magazine, the website Harpers.org, and Franklin Square Press, which publishes books consisting mostly of writings that have appeared in Harper’s _magazine._ As of December 2013, Harper’s claimed a circulation of just under 187,000. The bulk of its readers are middle-aged or older, and it remains a popular media outlet for liberal-left writers.
During most of the years since HMF acquired it in 1980, Harper’s magazine has lost money and thus has relied on support from the Foundation and other outside donors for its survival. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has been one of HMF’s key backers.