FAQ—What is it Like to Work at Resources for the Future?

Resources for the Future (RFF) is the leader in smart environmental policy design and innovation. Throughout our over 70-year history, we have spearheaded research advances in the conservation of natural resources, energy production and use, the valuation of environmental benefits, design of incentive-based policies, and policies to address the challenge of climate change. RFF also engages with the policy process: policymakers, businesses, nonprofits, communities, philanthropies, and others turn to RFF to help them improve their environmental decisions.

Keep reading to find out what it’s like to work at a world-class, policy-oriented research organization in the heart of Washington, DC.

What type of work does RFF do and how is it organized?

Research and policy engagement is our bread and butter. At RFF we apply innovative economic expertise to help solve climate change. Our research expertise and more than 70 years of practical experience have informed major environmental policies, corporate decisions, and philanthropic investments around the world.

Both domestically and internationally, we are achieving the greatest impact by focusing on two interconnected priorities:

Designing Net-Zero Emissions Strategies. We create net-zero emissions strategies that are effective, efficient, equitable, and beneficial to the economy—strategies that not only reduce emissions but also benefit all people and communities. This includes solutions that drive climate progress across the whole economy and specific strategies for all major sectors, including electric power; transportation; industry and fuels; and land use, forestry, and agriculture.

Reducing Risk and Building Resilient Communities. We work with decisionmakers to ensure that they have the information they need to build resilient and equitable communities. This work includes understanding and mitigating the physical and financial risks and uncertainties of a changing climate and helping to enable an equitable transition to a cleaner economy for all people and communities.

We hire researchers at all levels, from entry-level research analysts to late-career fellows, research directors, and more.

Our research is also powered by our amazing professional staff. In addition to research, we hire for roles in:

  • Government affairs,
  • Communications,
  • Development and fundraising,
  • Human resources,
  • Information technology,
  • And more!

What is the culture of RFF like?

RFF prides itself on being a people-focused organization. We’ve worked hard to build policies and practices that create a collaborative, productive, and importantly, fun work environment. From our 35-hour work week, to our flexible hybrid work structure, and more, we are always trying to find new ways to enable you to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

In addition, we want to make sure every employee feels included in the RFF community. We hold several fun events for staff throughout the year including happy hours, an annual spirit week, wellness activities, and more.

This desire to maintain an inclusive environment at RFF runs even deeper. Read more about RFF’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

How do we approach our research?

RFF is committed to conducting impactful, impartial, and independent research and policy analysis. We do not advocate or lobby on behalf of our partners, collaborators, or supporters; design or execute our efforts to the exclusive benefit of specific entities; or allow undue outside influence to impact our work. By supporting RFF, our funders demonstrate their shared acceptance and absolute commitment to preserving RFF’s research independence and integrity.

To ensure our independence, we run every restricted corporate grant through our Gift Acceptance Committee. The Committee makes sure that every gift is aligned with our values and does not come with undue sway over the research.

In addition to our research being independent, we strive to make our research rigorous and impactful. Our research agenda is determined by striking a balance between what is most relevant to the challenges facing our climate and the interests of our research team. Each year, program leadership guides processes with fellows and senior fellows to set research, outreach, and fundraising priorities for the coming year. These processes are collaborative and require the involvement and input of all research staff, as well as RFF’s communications and development teams.

Individuals at all levels of experience are actively encouraged to develop ideas for research projects. Researchers on each project have full discretion to be creative in determining how problems are addressed and are free to go where the evidence leads them. They are expected to think ahead to identify new or coming challenges.

How would your work make a real-world difference?

Staff at all levels and areas of the organization are essential to helping RFF make a real-world difference and actively engage with environmental and energy decisionmakers in both the public and private sectors. The chance to make a palpable difference in high-level decisionmaking is a key reason why people choose to be a part of RFF.

Our experts regularly appear before various federal congressional committees and hold informal briefings with elected officials and staff, as well as workshops with agency administrators at federal, state, and local levels. They are also frequently called upon for service in the federal government, including as senior staffers on the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, as special assistants to the president, and as agency heads, assistant or deputy assistant secretaries, and chief economists at federal agencies.

Climate change is the single greatest environmental threat of our time, so we do not want to merely publish research that sits on a shelf. We work hard to ensure our work has a real impact, and we would love your help to make a difference.

How does RFF disseminate its research?

RFF publishes a slew of research products including RFF reports, working papers, peer-review journal articles, issue briefs, and accessible explainers. RFF researchers also contribute to RFF's flagship print and digital magazine, Resources, which features articles, interviews, analysis, blog posts, and more.

In addition, from podcasts to newsletters, social media, interactive data tools, and more, our communications team is always exploring exciting ways to bring RFF research and expertise to the forefront.

With the help of our communications team, RFF researchers are regularly quoted in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, Marketplace, the Associated Press, National Journal, POLITICO, USA Today, Financial Times, US News & World Report, and a host of trade press publications.

How is RFF funded?

RFF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with an $18-million budget, approximately two-thirds of which comes from grants from foundations, governments, and other organizations, as well as philanthropic gifts from individuals and corporations. View a list of our current supporters online.

As previously mentioned, we do not advocate or lobby on behalf of our supporters; design or execute our efforts to the exclusive benefit of our supporters; or allow undue outside influence to impact our work. By supporting RFF, our funders demonstrate their shared acceptance and absolute commitment to preserving RFF’s research independence and integrity.

Our development team works hard to connect RFF with potential supporters, keep RFF engaged with our current supporters, and more. They are an integral part of our mission and a key part of our team.

Learn more about the types of gifts our development team processes.

What if I have other questions about working at RFF?

We are always happy to tell you more about life at RFF! To ask any other questions not covered in this FAQ, please reach out to Katie Sanabria ([email protected]).