The Guttmacher Institute was founded in 1968 as the Center for Family Planning Program Development. During the 1960s, Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. 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 U.S. 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 contraception 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 sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). This purpose and commitment continue today.
The Center was originally housed within the corporate structure of the 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. In 1977, the Center was renamed in memory of Dr. Alan Guttmacher, a long-time PPFA president and leader in the reproductive health movement. The Alan Guttmacher Institute was incorporated as an entirely independent nonprofit policy research institute with its own Board in 1977. It remained a special affiliate of PPFA until 2007, when Guttmacher’s special affiliation status was terminated; PPFA’s limited financial support to the Institute was phased out over the next several years.
The Guttmacher Institute operates 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. The Institute's work is guided by a 24-member board of directors made up of eminent professionals from a rich variety of disciplines, including civic leaders from across the United States and around the world. The Guttmacher Institute's annual budget of more than $28 million is derived largely from private foundations, government agencies, multilateral organizations and individual contributions.
Guttmacher is now in its sixth decade, having celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. The Institute remains true to its foundational purpose—integrating science and policy; producing highly regarded, trustworthy and timely information on SRHR; and communicating evidence and policy recommendations to media, policymakers and advocates. Yet over the years, Guttmacher’s approach has evolved to become more intentionally informed by the principles of equity and justice, leading it to prioritize critical aspects of SRHR affecting marginalized communities in the United States and globally.