Educational Institutions


  • 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 four monthly public policy newspapers featuring the latest news and commentary on school reform, environmental regulation, health care reform, and budget and tax issues. Eighty-two percent of state elected officials (according to a recent telephone survey) reported they read at least one or more 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




Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

1. Educational Contacts with Elected Officials

Target Population
No target populations selected

Connected to a Program?
Context notes for this metric
Number of contacts made by Heartland Institute staff with elected officials during 2015.

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 39 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 250 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: We gain exposure for our ideas through the mainstream media by writing and submitting news releases, op-eds, letters to the editor, and feature stories; and we go around the mainstream media by using online communication, generating almost 3.4 million page views on our 18 websites and blogs in 2015. Our Facebook page registered more than 98,000 fans and more than 13.6 million impressions in 2015.

    Digital and online projects: Heartland generated more than 3.4 million page views on its Web sites and blogs in 2015. Its Facebook page has more than 98,000 fans, and its posts advocating free markets and individual liberty reach more than 13.6 million people each week. The “Heartland Daily Podcast" is listened to or downloaded some 80,000 times every month.

    Government relations: We work directly with national and state elected officials to educate them about market-based alternatives. Our government relations staff made more than one million contacts with elected officials in 2015, including 6,000 face-to-face contacts. Virtually all these contacts are educational; we almost never engage in lobbying.
  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. Heartland spokespersons testified before elected officials 18 times in 11 states in 2015.

    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 104 events in 2015 before a combined total audience of 12,392 people. Heartland hosted 25 events in 2015, mostly luncheons with authors and academics in our library, that attracted a total of 1,768 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. We hosted 18 websites generating almost 3.4 million page views in 2015.

    5. Newspaper clippings and radio/television coverage: These can be tracked, month-to-month changes reported, and total population reached estimate. We appeared on TV 40 times, on radio 196 times, in newspapers 465 times, and in magazines 65 times. Our 530 print hits reached 102 million paid subscribers. Digitally, we produced 238 podcasts that generated 1.4 million listens. We posted 126 videos on our YouTube channel, which generated 274,661 views.

    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.

    We contacted elected officials more than one million times in 2015. Of those one million contacts, 23,749 were personal contacts, and of those, more than 6,000 were face-to-face, a 77 percent increase from 2014. 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 18 states a total of 11 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 196 broadcast hits and 465 print media hits in 2015 reaching more than 102 million subscribers. Heartland also generated 2,627 online hits. Heartland produced 238 episodes of its “Heartland Daily Podcast" attracting 1.4 million listeners. 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
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.




Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
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  • Board Chair and Board Members
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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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