Following the data
Our paper Following the money tried to understand how transparent think tanks are and how the public views them. This paper therefore included a wide range of data, individual responses from think tanks and polling. The polling was conducted by Deltapoll and our polling partner was the Millbank Think Tank whilst the rest of this data was collected by Centre Think Tank.
Think tanks made a total of
in their latest statement or annual report, mostly from 2022. This includes think tanks and organisations which have some of the same roles.
Our main rankings were based on levels of income transparency. Income transparency is where an orginisation releases the individuals or organisations that fund them. An A* rating means all income sources are available, A means all income sources over £7,500 are listed by exact amounts, B means all income sources over £7,500 are listed in bands, C means some income sources are listed, and D means we were unable to find any income sources or amounts. You can see the full methodology in the paper.
Our paper included some overall statistics on think tanks and similar organisations.
Explore the results
You can explore our results including searching specific organisations and how each organisation is ranked. You can also see how organisations compare by their overall income. If you need help with using these tables click the question marks below which will display more information.
Search our list
You can search our list for the names, political leaning, total income, transparency page, funding rating and spending rating of an organisation. If you need help with using this search bar click the question mark below which will display more information.
Explore our rankings
This graph allows you to explore our results including searching specific organisations, how each organisation is ranked and how they compare to other organisations on income levels. If you need help with using this graph click the question mark below which will display more information.
The biggest think tanks
This table shows one of the largest think tanks, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. This map includes all of the countries where the institute works in, where is has hired staff for and where it has contracts or deals.
Polling views on think tank transparency
Our polling partners Millbank commissioned Deltapoll to ask the public about their views on think tank transparency. Centre wrote the original question and analysed the results. The poll includes the answers of 1,036 adults from Great Britain and the poll was conducted between the 19th to the 20th October 2023.
The question we asked was “As you may know, there are several ‘think tanks’ in the UK which are mostly funded by donations from various sources. The donations are used to help design and promote political policies which could be implemented by any government of the day”. It then asks “From what you may have seen or heard, when it comes to how think tanks receive and spend their money do you think they are…” and then listed four options which were: “Very transparent about how they raise and spend their money”, “Quite transparent”, “Not very transparent”, “Not at all transparent about how they raise and spend their money Don’t know”.
The overall result was clear, the public do not view think tanks as transparent. It was a view shared by every sub group in the poll regardless of region, age, political leaning, employment status, sex, voting intention, social class, how they voted in the referendum and whether they were in a red wall seat.
Overall, 59% of respondents thought that think tanks were not transparent. Only 19% of respondents thought that they were transparent whilst 22% answered “Don’t know”.
Breakdown by response
When these results are broken down 13% of people thought think tanks are quite transparent and 6% said they were very transparent. In contrast 34% said think tanks were not very transparent and 25% said they were not at all transparent.
Mapping negative responses
When looking at the areas the respondents are from, no area of the UK sees think tanks as transparent. The south and north of England along with Scotland all had 63% of people responding that think tanks lack transparency.
Mapping positive responses
No area of the UK saw think tanks as transparent. London was the area which saw think tanks as the most transparent on 30% of respondents whilst the Midlands had 20% of people who view think tanks as transparent.
Breakdown by age
When broken down by age we can see that as people get older, they also think that think tanks are less transparent. The same is true that younger people are more likely to think that they are transparent.
Breakdown by male and female
Overall men and women were likely to view think tanks as “Not transparent” with 67% for men and 52% for women. However, women were more likely to respond “Don’t know” and men were more likely to think they were not transparent.
What voters think
When broken down by voting intention every group believes that think tanks are not transparent. The Lib Dems have the lowest percentage believing think tanks are not transparent on 58% and the Conservatives have the highest percentage believing they are transparent with 26%.
Both those supporting leave and remain view think tanks as not being very transparent. There is only a 2% gap on the number of respondents viewing them as not transparent and a 1% on those viewing them as transparent.
Views from the red wall
On the whole red wall voters thought that think tanks were not transparent. This resulted in 58% of Reddish Wall and 62% of Red Wall voters believing they were not transparent.
Both those supporting leave and remain view think tanks as not being very transparent. There is only a 2% difference between remain and leave voters on viewing them as not transparent.
Those in work were more likely to view think tanks as transparent by more than double. However, 59% of respondents from both groups view think tanks as not transparent. Those out of work had the largest “don’t know” response of 30%.