Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation released a list of donors to the foundation on January 1. The list was made public as part of an agreement with the Obama administration when Hillary Rodham Clinton was appointed secretary of state in order to prevent the appearance of conflicts of interest. (You can learn more about the foundation in the GuideStar database.)
The list indicates whether donors gave money in 2009 but only details the total of their giving since the charity began raising money in 1998, so it’s not possible to determine how much each donor gave in 2009 alone. According to the New York Times, since the Clinton Foundation’s creation in 1997, more than 160,000 people have contributed to it, with more than 11,000 individuals giving for the first time last year. More than 90 percent of the foundation’s donations last year were valued at $250 or less.
So who’s on the list? Well, foreign governments continue to be big donors. The list includes Norway, which has given between $10 million and $25 million over the past several years, and Oman, whose donations have totaled between $1 million and $5 million. But some foreign governments that had been multi-million-dollar donors in the past, including Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait, and Qatar, did not give in 2009.
Among the top donors is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gave more than $25 million. (You can also see the Gates Foundation’s report on GuideStar.)
According to its Web site (www.clintonfoundation.org), the Clinton Foundation finances charitable programs in climate change, global health, poverty, and education. It also hosts the annual Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together philanthropists, corporate chiefs, government officials, and nonprofit leaders to find charitable solutions to worldwide problems.
I was uncomfortable about the former president’s fundraising for his foundation when Hillary Clinton was first proposed as secretary of state. There seemed to be considerable potential for conflict with a former powerful and influential president raising money from foreign governments while his spouse serves as secretary of state. So far it doesn’t seem to have been a problem. As far as we know.
On a positive note, we often talk about foundations’ power to leverage and convene. No one is in a better position to do this than Bill Clinton. He seems to be unmatched in his ability to connect people and cobble together funding. In fact, I like the fact Clinton needs to raise his money rather than work off a large endowment. Don’t you think that model requires his foundation to be able to demonstrate that they are an efficient user of donor money and, more important, that they can measure effectiveness and impact? What if every foundation were required to do this before it could dip into its endowment?
The preceding is a guest post Bob Ottenhoff, Chief Executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. With an entrepreneurial spirit, strong technology focus, and a quest to make an impact in the world, Bob has the ability to take an organization and lead it into strong performance, sustainability, and industry leadership.