The Berkman Center for Internet & Society was founded in 1997 with a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman. Over the past decade the Berkman Center has received financial support from foundations, corporations, private donors, international organizations, and government entities. These relationships are vital to the pursuit of our ambitious educational and public interest goals.
We are committed to autonomy in our research and transparency in our relationships. These traits are essential to our continued credibility and success as an institution. Our funding model is possible due to the robust, strict, and clear policies that govern our association with donors and preserve the Berkman Center’s intellectual independence.
Our research and outreach modes depend substantially on being able to convene and engage parties that span the spectrum of viewpoints, and for our research results to have impact, our work must not only be intellectually rigorous, but also fair and impartial.
To that end, we do not accept grants that limit our ability to carry out research in the way we see fit – free of outside influence and consistent with our organizational mission and values. We do not undertake research or accept funds at the request of outside organizations unless it is consistent with our existing research agenda, mission, and overall philosophy. We are transparent about our funding sources, announcing the receipt of funds through our normal communication channels.
All corporate donors agree to give their funds as unrestricted gifts, for which there is no contractual agreement and no promised products, results, or deliverables. We have experimented with different arrangements at times in the past and have come to believe that this is the most productive approach for both the Center and our donors.
Foundations, international organizations, government entities, and other non-private entities may offer unrestricted gifts, but in most cases they are required to offer grant funding for sponsored research. The terms of these grants are set forth in contracts negotiated between the donor and Harvard’s Office of Sponsored Programs and include specific parameters such as budget guidelines, timelines, and deliverables.
These policies complement the relevant policies of Harvard Law School and Harvard University. We will continue to review these policies to ensure that we are doing our utmost to maintain the integrity of the Berkman Center, our work, and our community.