The Clintons may be forced to run an actual charitable foundation
Amid the flurry of pay-to-play allegations against the Clinton Foundation, donations to the “charity” dried up over the past couple of years, and along with those, the Clintons’ speaking fees also took a nosedive.
Donations to the Clinton Foundation nose-dived last year amid Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, pay-to-play allegations, internal strife and a black mark from a charity watchdog.
Contributions fell by 37 percent to $108 million, down from $172 million in 2014, according to the group’s latest tax filings.
The cash plummeted as Hillary Clinton left the nonprofit in April 2015 after announcing her ill-fated candidacy.
. . . . Not only did contributions drop, but so did revenue the Clintons brought in from speeches. That income fell to $357,500 from $3.6 million in 2014.
By the time the foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative held its annual conference in September 2015, many donors had bailed, including Samsung and ExxonMobil.
This was all before she lost the White House; presumably, these donors didn’t want to be associated with the scandals tied to the Foundation. Now that she will no longer be associated in any way with the federal government, still more donors, particularly foreign governments, are drastically cutting their donations.
It now appears that Norway, one of the most prolific foreign Clinton Foundation donors, is decreasing its annual donation from $20 million in 2015 to $4.2 million this year—a significant drop suggesting the foreign government had expected to receive benefits in return for its generous donation.
Norway’s move also provides further evidence that the Foundation serves more as a front to sell access to the Clintons than as an organization focused on philanthropy. While the Foundation may have conducted some charitable work, its greater purpose has always been to boost the Clinton brand, market the Clintons on the highly paid speech circuit, and offer donors access to the Clintons and their prolific network of elite and corporate connections.
It appears that further losses are likely.
. . . [N]either Clinton will occupy a prominent role in government in the immediate future—curtailing the willingness of at least some big donors to try and curry favor with the foundation by writing large checks.
Because Hillary Clinton is no longer seen as a president in waiting, contributors may look elsewhere and the foundation may have to rethink its scope and priorities, these experts say.
The foundation did not respond to numerous requests for comment from CNBC.
“I would expect there will be much greater difficulties in fundraising for the organization,” Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor with Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, told CNBC in an interview.
Hillary Clinton “technically has no political prospects ahead of her. They’re both important people, but dealing with a past president and future president were attractive to a number of donors,” Lenkowsky said. Some of the largest checks came from a range of influential donors like the governments of Norway, Australia and Kuwait.
“Some of that goodwill will disappear, [and] they will have to raise money the old fashioned way, which is proving they deserve it,” he added.
The problem with peddling influence is that when you no longer have any influence to peddle, your contacts lose your number.
So, what’s next for the Clinton Foundation? It seems that if it is to continue, it must become what it has pretended to be, an actual charitable foundation.
While no one expects the Clinton Foundation to close its doors, a few observers expect a reorganization of priorities and management, at a minimum.
“Obviously they’re not going to attract that much money, but they’re becoming more of a legitimate foundation with a professional staff,” said Pablo Eisneberg, senior fellow at the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at Georgetown University. He cited last year’s hiring of former University of Miami president Donna Shalala as part of the organization becoming more of a “regular foundation.”
Better late than never, I guess.DONATE
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