Educational Institutions

Heartland Institute

  • Arlington Heights, IL

Mission Statement

The Heartland Institute is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1984 and devoted to research and education. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.

Main Programs

  1. Programs Overview
Service Areas



The Heartland Institute conducts activities across the United States.

ruling year


President & CEO


Mr. Joseph L. Bast

Chairman of the Board


Mr. Herbert Walberg



budget, climate change, digital economy, education, environment, free market, freedom, global warming, government, health care, information technology, junk science, lawsuit abuse, libertarian, multicultural, private property, privatization, public policy, school reform, second hand smoke, smoker, smoking, sound science, taxes, tax reform, think tank, tobacco, tort reform, welfare

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Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (B05)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (P05)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (W05)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

Among the many free-market "think tanks" in the United States, three things make The Heartland Institute unique:

1.  Our primary audiences are the nation's 8,300 state and national elected officials and approximately 8,400 local government officials. Heartland is the only free-market organization that sends publications regularly to every national, state, and most local elected officials in the nation.
2.  We produce five monthly public policy newspapers featuring the latest news and commentary on school reform, environmental regulation, health care reform, budget and tax issues, and finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) policy issues. Seventy-nine percent of state elected officials (according to a 2011 telephone survey) reported they read at least one Heartland publication. Nearly half of state elected officials say a Heartland publication influenced their opinions or led to a change in public policy.
3.  We effectively market the work of other think tanks and advocacy groups by featuring their writers and spokespersons in our publications and new releases, as speakers at our events, and in our speakers bureau, and including their publications in PolicyBot, a database and search engine located on Heartland's Web site. The Heartland Institute does more to promote the work of other free-market think tanks than any other think tank in the U.S. It is part of our mission to do this.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Programs Overview

The Heartland Institute publishes four national monthly newspapers covering free-market ideas in school reform, environmental protection, health care finance, and tax and budget matters. Heartland also publishes three policy newsletters, addressing the digital economy; lawsuit abuse; and public policy from a free-market multicultural perspective. It also publishes a members' newsletter. Heartland has a substantial presence on the Internet (, including PolicyBot -- the Internet's largest collection of free-market public policy research. Eight Heartland Senior Fellows travel the country giving speeches to audiences of all sizes. Heartland also publishes occasional books and policy studies and hosts seminars and other events.


General Code

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The Heartland Institute is a nonprofit educational organization whose mission since 1984 has been to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Heartland is dedicated to protecting the liberty of individuals and promoting more economic opportunity for all Americans. Heartland believes this is best accomplished by advocating for a smaller, less-intrusive federal government, and moving policy-making to more-accountable state and local governments.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    The Heartland Institute’s main strategy for accomplishing its foundational mission is to educate legislators and the public about free-market principles and the virtues of smaller government and greater liberty.

    Heartland focuses primarily on educating state elected officials through the production and distribution of monthly newspapers covering key domestic policy areas from a free-market perspective. The newspapers cover health care, education, budgets and taxes, and environment and energy. They present free-market solutions that have been implemented successfully in several states and new ideas to increase individual liberty, responsible governance, and economic vitality. No other national free-market advocacy group identifies state and local officials as its primary audience.

    Heartland also produces a steady stream of podcasts, blog posts, videos, op-eds, letters to the editor, policy studies, and other communications to educate elected officials, the public, and the media about the principles of free-market capitalism.

    Our effective education strategy consists of overcoming “rational ignorance,” creating our own publications, using new media to target younger audiences, recognizing and overcoming media bias, creating compelling narratives, encouraging political engagement, and overcoming the public’s persuasive ignorance of economics.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Core assets: Heartland has a full-time staff of 29 people who produce and manage the organization’s educational materials and outreach to elected officials, the public, the press, and allies in the free-market movement. Heartland also leverages the knowledge of some 230 policy advisors, who help produce, review, and promote the organization’s educational products.

    Original research: Every year, Heartland produces books, Policy Studies, Policy Briefs, Research & Commentary collections, and booklets on subjects such as public pension reform; taxes on Internet sales, wireless telephones, and tobacco products; entitlement reform at the federal and state levels; energy policy; increased parental choice in public education; health care reform, and many other important issues.

    Communications: Heartland every year submits hundreds of letters to the editor, op-eds, and media alerts to media outlets, hosts events, and promotes Heartland’s senior fellows as speakers on radio and television, as well as at public events. In 2013, Heartland contacted journalists more than 3.6 million times, generating 775 appearances in the mainstream media with a combined print circulation of 44.8 million readers.

    Digital and online projects: Heartland generated more than 2.4 million page views on its Web sites and blogs in 2013. Its Facebook page has more than 80,000 fans, and its posts advocating free markets and individual liberty reach more than 5 million people each week. The “Heartland Daily Podcast” is listened to or downloaded some 80,000 times every month.

    Government relations: Heartland works directly with national and state elected officials to educate them about market-based alternatives to public policy problems. Its government relations staff made more than 1.2 million contacts with elected officials in 2013, and 20,188 of those contacts were one-on-one – meaning in person, by phone, or by one-to-one emails.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    1. Survey of key audiences: Every one or two years, Heartland conducts a survey of randomly selected elected officials to measure the influence the organization is having with its educational outreach. The survey measures, for instance, how familiar elected officials are with The Heartland Institute, how familiar they are with our publications, how much influence our publications have on their thinking about public policy, and if Heartland’s educational outreach has changed their mind on a key issue in domestic policy. Heartland also compares its influence with our peer organizations in the free-market movement.

    2. Testimonials: Heartland regularly solicits feedback from elected officials, donors, media, the public, academics, and our peer public policy organizations to serve as a benchmark of our effectiveness and the progress of our goals. Those testimonials are shared on Heartland’s website and in communications with donors, the public, and the media.

    3. Attendance at events: Event attendance is a good barometer of our ability to persuade busy people to invest their valuable time in hearing our positions. Attendance at events where Heartland representatives speak or exhibit is also evidence of exposure and impact. Heartland Institute fellows spoke at 128 events in 2013 before a combined total audience of 19,347 people. Heartland hosted 26 events in 2013, mostly luncheons with authors and academics in our library, that attracted a total of 2,361 people.

    4. Traffic for websites, podcasts, and videos: Heartland’s websites record the number of visitors, page views, and hits, giving us some measure of our success over time and compared to other organizations. Heartland’s sites logged 1.7 million unique visitors and 2.4 million page views in 2013.

    5. Newspaper clippings and radio/television coverage: These can be tracked, month-to-month changes reported, and total population reached estimate. In 2013, Heartland’s efforts to get picked up in the media resulted in a total of 3,379 hits online, in newspapers, in magazines, and on television and radio. Heartland scholars appeared or were mentioned on radio 178 times and television 180 times in 2013. The total circulation of publications that mentioned Heartland or published our op-eds and letters to the editor totaled 45 million in 2013.

    6. Number of financial supporters: This reveals the number of people who are so convinced by our message and our effectiveness at conveying it that they are willing to help finance the effort.

    7. Sale of publications: This too reveals the number of people willing to pay for our research and publication.

    8. Changes to public policy: Actual changes to public policy are the ultimate test of our effectiveness.

    Heartland measures all eight outputs and reports them to donors regularly in the quarterly QPR newsletter.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Heartland produced and distributed 163 policy documents, including 141 Research & Commentaries, 10 Policy Tip Sheets, 10 Policy Briefs, and two Policy Studies in 2013. Our government relations team logged 20,188 personal and 1,185,972 group contacts for a total of 1,206,160 contacts with legislators on all issues. Virtually all of these contacts were educational and nonpartisan. Time and expenditures devoted to lobbying are de minimis and in strict accordance with our 501(c)(3) status.

    Heartland affiliated experts testified in 20 states a total of 29 times last year. This included 11 times on education issues, nine times on budget and tax issues, eight times on energy and environment issues, and once on health care issues.

    Heartland generated 358 broadcast hits and 350 print media hits in 2013 reaching more than 444.7 million subscribers. Heartland also generated 2,627 online hits. Heartland produced 234 episodes of its “Heartland Daily Podcast” attracting 737,386 in 2013. Heartland Institute fellows spoke at 128 events in 2013 in front of a total audience of 19,347 people.
Service Areas



The Heartland Institute conducts activities across the United States.

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Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Heartland Institute



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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President & CEO

Mr. Joseph L. Bast

Chairman of the Board

Mr. Herbert Walberg


Joseph Bast is president and CEO of The Heartland Institute, a 29-year-old national nonprofit research center located in Chicago, Illinois. According to a recent telephone survey, among state elected officials The Heartland Institute is among the nation’s best-known and most highly regarded “think tanks.”

Bast is the author or editor of 21 books, including Rebuilding America’s Schools (1990), Why We Spend Too Much on Health Care (1992) Eco-Sanity: A Common-Sense Guide to Environmentalism (1994) Education & Capitalism (2003), Climate Change Reconsidered (2009), and The Patriot’s Toolbox (2010, rev. ed. 2011).

His writing has appeared in the Phi Delta Kappan, Economics of Education Review, Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, The Cato Journal, USA Today, and many of the country’s largest-circulation newspapers.

Bast is publisher of six monthly newspapers sent to every national and state elected official and 8,400 county and municipal officials. Those publications are titled School Reform News, Environment & Climate News, Health Care News, Budget & Tax News, FIRE Policy News, and IT&T News.

Bast has been recognized many times for his contributions to public policy research and debate, including being named one of “The 88 to Watch in 1988” by the Chicago Tribune and being awarded the 1994 Roe Award from the State Policy Network, the 1996 Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award, the 1998 Eagle Award from Eagle Forum, and the 2004 Champion of Liberty Award from the Libertarian National Committee. He was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel by Gov. Paul E. Patton in 1996, elected a member of the Philadelphia Society in 2002, and elected to the board of directors of the American Conservative Union in 2007.

Prior to being hired as The Heartland Institute’s first employee in 1984, Bast was coeditor of the bimonthly magazine Nomos, and


"The Heartland Institute is a national nonprofit research and education organization devoted to changing the world with ideas. We discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.
The Heartland Institute plays an essential role in the national (and increasingly in the international) movement for limited government and personal liberty. We are the pipeline between the freedom movement's leading writers and thinkers and the nation's 50 state legislatures. The states are key battlegrounds for the advance of freedom.
You may also know us from our work exposing the shoddy science and missing economics behind the global warming delusion. We also have been a leader in advancing school choice, opposing implementation of Obamacare, and defeating efforts to tax and regulate the Internet.
We need your support to continue making the world a better place."



Mr. Herbert J. Walberg

No Affiliation


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Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?