Ron Arnold's Left Tracking Library

The Threshold Foundation

The Threshold Foundation [a 501(c)(3) public charity]
Presidio Building
1014 Torney Avenue
San Francisco,  CA  94129
Phone: (415) 561-6400 

EIN: 13-3028214
Originally founded by James George and Joshua Mailman in London, United Kingdom, in 1978.
Incorporated by Joshua Mailman in New York, August 17, 1979 as Threshold Foundation USA.
Name and UK institution co-opted by Joshua Mailman for the "Doughnuts" in 1982.
Became a project of the Tides Foundation in 1984.
Incorporated in California by Tides Foundation, July 11, 1986  (California C1536681) as a New York jurisdiction corporation.
2007 assets:
2007 revenue:

Housed in the Tides Foundation's San Francisco Presidio complex with many other left-wing organizations, including

Google Earth coordinates, 3748'01.29"N; 12227'05.46"W
Eye altitude 500 feet

Member of Peace and Security Funders Group

See also profiles of

Self-Description: Original Purpose (1982):  "To fund programs that support the transformation, growth, and healing of individuals, families, and communities; projects that recognize the sacredness of the earth as a living organism, and that address issues affecting the natural environment and all species; and groups that work for self-empowerment, systemic change, and cultural and economic self-determination." [This purpose statement lasted into the late 1990s, and was reproduced on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website]
Restated purpose as a Tides Foundation affiliate (1984):
"A membership organization comprised of individuals with significant financial resources who contribute their time, money and energies to examine the personal and social consequences of wealth and contribute to making a more just, joyful and sustainable world through their philanthropic endeavors.
To be a quiet catalyst to the social change movement, by seeding thousands of non-profits and by supporting the evolution of many sister donor organizations and socially responsible business networks throughout the world."
Restated purpose as a California corporation (1986): Promote peace, understanding and environmental awareness through grant making and presentation of educational conferences.

Actual: Originally (1978), a British alternative-medicine institution formed in London by retired Ambassador James George and funded by Joshua Mailman, a wealthy heir of a New York conglomerate empire.

Joshua Mailman also incorporated the Threshold Foundation USA in New York in 1979 as the American correspondent group, solely as a funding point for the British institution, with no programs of its own.

The Foundation remained under the direction of James George in London from 1978 to 1982 and was primarily concerned with promoting alternative healing methods, mostly herbal medicine, with a heavy emphasis on Yoga therapy and Buddhist and Taoist practices, which Mr. George had picked up during his term as High Commissioner of India. But George
also played a leading role in getting the International Whaling Commission to adopt a moratorium on high seas whaling and to ban all whaling in the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic. In 1981, the Threshold Foundation (London) published a study promoting natural medicine written by two noted British Ph.D.s, Stephen Fulder (biochemistry and chemical pharmacology) and Robin Monro (biochemistry), The Status of Complimentary Medicine in the United Kingdom. It remains in the literature of alternative medicine in the United Kingdom.

The Doughnuts: In 1981, Joshua Mailman convened a secret meeting in Estes Park Colorado, bringing together a semi-mystical New Age group of 22 wealthy young heirs who called themselves "The Doughnuts." They named themselves after a circular cloud that appeared over the meditation circle they had formed in their outdoor council, where they contemplated "the sacredness of the earth as a living organism" and their duty to save it and its indigenous peoples through joint use of their inherited wealth. The mystical circle became the permanent symbol of their spiritual origins and, in artsy stylization, remains the logo of the present, more secular, Threshold Foundation. 

Front Cover,
Doughnut Newsletter,
Spring 1984
Threshold Foundation
stylized website logo

In early 1982 Mailman co-opted the Threshold Foundation name and funding away from the London institution for the use of his informal organization of wealthy "Doughnuts." Each "Doughnut" was sworn to absolute secrecy about their commitment to lofty quasi-religious goals, the projects they funded, and their personal identities. Their internal newsletters used only first names and initials for last names.

The projects they funded, like their gatherings, were typically the self-indulgent, romanticized, and quixotic acts of youth and unearned wealth.

Gatherings: They held retreats and journeys in the Arkansas Ozarks; at Paradise Island (Nassau, Bahamas); Mount Sinai, Egypt, to watch the sunrise; "Green Gulch Community" for its "serenity of cosmic consciousness" in Marin County, California; Esalen on the Big Sur cliffside for personal transformation; the Yoga Center Fire Walking Ceremony at Area - a hot New York club.

Early Projects: Several Doughnuts bought an "eco-lodge" in the Amazon jungle of eastern Ecuador; the entire group attempted to buy a gypsum mine in Arkansas to provide crystals to encircle the U.S. White House and Moscow's Kremlin in a magical crystal peace spell; one Doughnut (Harriet Crosby, General Mills money) founded the Institute for Soviet-American Relations in 1983 to prevent World War III; Richard Perl (his father was a wealthy New Jersey entrepreneur), who was still in Columbia Law School (with a business card saying "Peace Entrepreneur"), would become CEO of Deepak Chopra's holistic health corporation, Infinite Possibilities International and follow Mailman into founding the Social Venture Network.

By 1984, Doughnut Anne Bartley (step-daughter of Winthrop Rockefeller) and other Doughnuts including Jeffrey Mark Bronfman (Seagrams whiskey fortune), were realizing "We take chances with friends we wouldn't necessarily do otherwise and sometimes this leads to problems/misunderstanding."
London founder James George complained that the group was drifting away from his original vision:

Before Threshold migrated from England to America, we had been more effective in fostering a dialogue between "alternative" therapies and the medical profession. The present Research Council for Complimentary Medicine and the British Foundation for Natural Therapies in London are spin-offs of the ground-breaking Threshold Study of the Status of Complimentary Medicine in the U.K. by Fulder and Monro, 1981.
   In America, although individual Doughnuts have been deeply involved, only one of the forty Threshold projects (Gesundheit) has addressed this concern.

So, in 1984 Tides Foundation and Drummond Pike took over the management problems of Threshold Foundation and incorporated it in 1986, setting it on a more businesslike path, but retaining its ultra-liberal view that saw American society as rife with injustice and in need of radical transformation.

Current Projects: The Threshold Foundation not only donates to eco-friendly, peace and healing projects, but also to blatant electoral political projects run by non-charitable exempt organizations:

Non-charitable exempt organization Project
$100,000 CODEPINK Action Fund Don't Buy Bush's War and Occupation Project
$25,000 Velvet Revolution Election Protection Strike Force 2008
$30,000 Arizona Advocacy Network Ballot Access Project
$30,000 League of Independent Voters Electoral Reform Advocacy Project
$40,000 Center for Civic Action Statewide Clean Election Campaign

Threshold's Approach: Funding is currently divided into two very different segments:

For 2008 there were 2 standing committees:

  • Sustainable Planet: To Threshold, "sustainability" means: "Meeting the needs of people now without compromising the needs of future generations. Bringing all human activities into harmony with nature for the benefit of all beings." How one does that without imposing totalitarian control is not addressed. Threshold only says:

    • This implies transforming both human culture and technology to live within the physical limits of the local and global ecosystems.  Most urgently, this implies protecting threatened ecosystems to preserve biodiversity and prevent extinction.  This in turn will require addressing global ecological issues such as climate change, empowering local and indigenous communities and deploying new clean technologies.

  • Democracy: The Threshold Foundation Democracy Committee "works to help individuals better embody the spirit, and manifest the promise of Democracy.  It works to strengthen participatory democracy and protect it from threats."
    The Threshold "Democracy" projects are:

    • Limiting Corporate Power

    • Grassroots organizing

    • Election  Integrity.

The committees accept and evaluate grant requests to fund projects designed by the requester.

Funding Circles:
For 2008-2009, there were four Circles which did not accept grant requests, but gave money to the personal favorites of the donors, strictly by invitation only. The four Circles were:

  • Arts Rising

  • Gulf South Allied Funders/Threshold

  • International Permaculture

  • Restorative Justice

Threshold's entire purpose it to transform America into something Not-America, although exactly what that is remains vague, but directly threatening to individual liberty, limited government, and free enterprise.

Previous groups that have receive Threshold Foundation money include:
Amazon Watch; Earth Island Institute/Energy Action Coalition; Friends of the Earth; Rainforest Action Network; Northwest Environment Watch; Global Resource Action Center for the Environment; Youth for Environmental Sanity; Genetic Engineering Action Network; Alliance for Global Justice; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; Essential Information; Biotechnology Working Group; Ruckus Society; Redefining Progress; Arawaka; Arizona Advocacy Network; California Sustainable Agriculture Working Group; Center for Council Training; CorpWatch; Courage to Refuse; Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence; Coexistence Initiative; Challenge Day; Center for Economic Justice; Drug Policy Alliance; Fringe Benefits; Friends of the Ten Mile; Independent Media Institute; Institute for Public Accuracy; Green Empowerment; Global Greengrants Fund; Government Accountability Project; International Development Exchange; International Forum on Globalization; International Media Project/National Radio Project; Internews Interactive; Jubilee USA Network; Nuclear Policy Research Institute; MidEast Citizen Diplomacy; Network of Educators on the Americas/Tellin' Stories Project; New World Foundation; Public Education Center; Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy; Transforming Violence; Women Living Free; Western Shoshone Defense Project; Western States Center; Youth Gender Project; Unitarian Universalists for Drug Policy Reform; Unity Foundation; Women's Action for New Directions Education Fund; National Network of Grantmakers; National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy; and Third Wave Foundation.

Top Threshold Foundation Grants Made

courtesy / links go to pages
Funding To Activist Groups Total Donated Time Frame
Tides Foundation & Tides Center $91,124.00 1997 2001
Friends of the Earth $86,000.00 2000 2001
Rainforest Action Network $37,470.00 1999 2001
Northwest Environment Watch $35,000.00 2000 2000
International Center for Technology Assessment $25,000.00 2001 2001
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment $24,000.00 1998 1999
Genetic Engineering Action Network $22,470.00 2000 2001
Public Citizen $20,000.00 2003 2003
Alliance for Global Justice $19,755.00 2000 2001
Ruckus Society $17,326.00 1998 2003
Center for Commercial-Free Public Education $15,500.00 1997 1997
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners Association $15,370.00 2000 2001
Center for Media & Democracy $15,000.00 2005 2005
Essential Information $14,000.00 1998 1998
Biotechnology Working Group $12,978.00 1999 1999
Western Organization of Resource Councils $12,000.00 2003 2003
Redefining Progress $5,000.00 1999 1999

Threshold Foundation Officers and Directors 2008

Name Title Compensation
Michelle Grennon President $0
Gita Drury Vice President and Secretary $0
Sophia Bowart Treasurer $0
Drummond Pike Director $0
Suzanne Gollin Director $0
Sam Utne Director $0
Mary Calder
Director $0
Craig Harwood Director $0
David Hills Director $0
Laura Wasserman Director $0

Threshold Foundation Highest Paid
Professional Services Contractors 2007

Name Type of Service Compensation
Tides Foundation Management and operating services $300,000


Threshold Foundation financial condition 2007

 Revenue     Expenses
Contributions $2,476,062
Government Grants $0
Program Services $131,565
Investments $221,323
Special Events $0
Sales $0
Other $17,163


Program Services $1,898,162
Administration $247,226
Other $3934
Total Expenditures $2,145,783
Total Revenue $2,846,113   NET GAIN/LOSS $700,330