A “special project” of the Ploughshares Fund, the Peace and Security Funders Group (PSFG) describes itself as “an association of private and public foundations, operating foundations, charitable trusts, grantmaking programs, and individual philanthropists who make grants or expenditures that contribute to peace and global security.” The PSFG coalition was established in 1999 by several large foundations (one of which was the Ploughshares Fund), “in response to a need for greater communication and collaboration among funders working in the peace and security field, as well as a mechanism to encourage increased philanthropic activity in this area.”
Some PSFG members “support regional activities that try to prevent violent conflict or to aid peace-building and reconstruction after war.” Some seek to “address the global dangers of under-secured nuclear weapons, fissile material and dangerous pathogens.” Others focus on “the budgetary, environmental and health impacts of weapons production, testing and use.” Others are more concerned with the “underlying drivers of political violence, terrorism, and war, such as competition for natural resources, ethnic and religious differences, poverty and social injustice.” Still others “support the development of broad concepts of conflict prevention and conflict resolution — concepts that apply to tensions within families, neighborhoods, and societies, as well as between countries.”
Unlike antiwar groups such as International ANSWER and Code Pink, PSFG does not promote grassroots marches and demonstrations. Instead, it arranges and bankrolls high-level insider seminars, briefings, and conferences for policymakers and opinion-shapers. Likewise, it supports task forces and working groups that focus on such issues as nuclear proliferation, international violence, environmental concerns, human rights, and global justice. Thus PSFG projects, to the media and legislators alike, a more sophisticated image than that of the street-activist organizations.
PSFG’s top priority is to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. A subsidiary objective is to ban–or to at least limit the manufacture, testing, and sale of–conventional and biological weapons alike. An avid supporter of international arms-control treaties that promote disarmament, PSFG exhorts the U.S. to drastically reduce its defense budget while earmarking more money for international humanitarian relief and economic-development programs. PSFG also opposes the “militarization” of space (i.e., the deployment of a space-based missile-defense system), and condemns any sort of unilateral, pre-emptive military action by the United States.
According to a Capital Research Center report, PSFG espouses a worldview known as “liberal internationalism,” which “subordinates U.S. national interests to a global utopianism” and “dismisses American strategic requirements such as the need for covert intelligence, the conduct of political warfare, and the prudential use of force and propaganda.”
Today PSFG is composed more than 60 member organizations and one individual member
Since February 2006, Katherine Magraw has been PSFG’s director. In addition to her duties with PSFG, Magraw also serves as a consultant to the Ford Foundation, the Ploughshares Fund, and Win Without War. Prior to joining PSFG, McGraw was a program officer for the W. Alton Jones Foundation (now known as the Blue Moon Fund). Before that, she served variously as co-director of the Iraq Media Center for Fenton Communications; special assistant to the Under Secretary of State for International Policy during the Clinton administration; foreign-policy specialist for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; and legislative aide to Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone.
PSFG’s steering committee consists of seven officials from some of the coalition’s member organizations. As of February 2012, these officials were: co-chair Nandini Merz (Colombe Foundation); co-chair Carl Robichaud (Carnegie Corporation of New York); Amy Gordon (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation); Paul Carroll (Ploughshares Fund); Ariadne Papagapitos (Rockefeller Brothers Fund); Evelyn Thornton (Hunt Alternatives Fund); and George Vickers (Open Society Institute).
A noteworthy former member of the steering committee was Cora Weiss (Samuel Rubin Foundation).
According to a January 2011 PSFG report, “ninety-one American foundations made commitments to invest a total of $257,221,598 in civil society efforts to promote peace and security over the two-year period of 2008 and 2009.” Of that total, two PSFG members–the MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation–provided $88,437,427, or just over one-third of all the dollars pledged.
For additional information on PSFG, click here.