The History of the Guttmacher Institute

Now in its fifth decade, the Guttmacher Institute remains committed to the mission and goals that led to its creation.

The Guttmacher Institute was founded in 1968 as the Center for Family Planning Program Development. At the time, Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon had begun to call the public's attention to the problem of unplanned and unwanted childbearing and its consequences for individual women and men, their children and their communities both at home and abroad. Concurrently, the United States Congress was taking its first steps toward the development of an international population assistance program, as well as a multifaceted, national program aimed at providing equitable access to modern methods of birth control in the United States. By integrating nonpartisan social science research, policy analysis and public education, the Center hoped to provide a factual basis for the development of sound governmental policies and for public consideration of the sensitive issues involved in the promotion of reproductive health and rights. This purpose and commitment continue today.

The Center was originally housed within the corporate structure of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Its program, however, was independently developed and overseen by a National Advisory Council separate from the PPFA Board of Directors. Its early development was nurtured by Alan F. Guttmacher, an eminent obstetrician-gynecologist, author and leader in reproductive rights who was PPFA's president for more than a decade until his death in 1974. The Center was renamed in Dr. Guttmacher's memory, and the Guttmacher Institute incorporated as an entirely independent nonprofit policy research institute with its own Board in 1977, but remained a special affiliate of PPFA. 

Over the years, the Guttmacher Institute has received financial support from PPFA, as it has from a wide range of other entities. In 2007, Guttmacher’s special affiliation status with PPFA was terminated, and PPFA’s financial support to the Institute, then at $395,000 (3.3% of Guttmacher’s total budget), was phased out over the following three years. In 2010, PPFA’s final contribution in support of the Institute’s program, in the amount of $75,000, constituted 0.6% of Guttmacher’s nearly $13 million budget. In 2013, PPFA made a one-time contribution of $50,000 to the Cory L. Richards Memorial Scholarship Fund; this gift did not support the Institute’s programmatic work.

The Guttmacher Institute maintains offices in New York and Washington. Its current staff of more than 100 comprises demographers, social scientists, public policy analysts, editors, writers, communications specialists, and financial and technical personnel. A few of its employees have been with the organization for most of its existence, and an affiliation that goes back 10 or 15 years is not unusual. The Institute's work is guided by a 24-member board made up of eminent professionals from a rich variety of disciplines, as well as civic leaders from across the United States and around the world. The Guttmacher Institute's annual budget of approximately $20 million is derived largely from private foundations, government agencies, multilateral organizations and individual contributions.