Clinton Foundation sees 2020 plunge into giveaways and grants

Contributions and grants to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation fell by millions in 2020 to the lowest amount in at least a decade, according to Internal Revenue Service documents.

IRS statements show that the Clinton Foundation received $ 16.3 million last year in contributions and grants, a steep drop from $ 29.6 million in 2019. By comparison, the association received $ 24.2 million in 2018, $ 26.6 million in 2017 and $ 62.9 million in 2016.

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“As 2020 has brought urgent needs to respond to the pandemic and an increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion; it was also a difficult year for philanthropy, ”wrote Kevin Thurm, CEO of the Clinton Foundation, in an open letter. “Across the sector, resources have been wiped out and fundraising activities have been affected. The foundation operates the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, but is also involved in a range of efforts on topics such as economic development, education and climate change.

Last year, the association had offices in Little Rock, New York, Malawi, Tanzania and Rwanda, a spokesperson said.

The organization’s assets are strong and the nonprofit still holds a “very large” endowment, said Leslie Lenkowsky, an emeritus professor at Indiana University who studies philanthropy. But, he noted, contributions and grants continue to decline in general for nonprofits.

“This has been going on for some time. I think this largely reflects the fact that the Clintons are less important these days and their ability to raise money has been affected, ”he said.

The Clinton Foundation, he said, can be called a “celebrity foundation,” where much of the organization’s appeal is generated by the fame of the people involved.

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“The athletes have it. Movie stars have them. Other politicians have it. And so you would expect to see a big drop as the celebrity factor starts to decline, ”Lenkowsky said.

Total charitable giving rose 3.8% last year after adjusting for inflation, according to a report by the Giving USA Foundation that examines donations to charities nationwide. The increases in contributions have gone to education, social services and “public society charities” among other areas.

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Laura MacDonald, president of the Giving USA Foundation, described last year as the highest year on record for charitable giving, even with the coronavirus pandemic. However, she also called the country’s economic landscape mixed.

“It is important to recognize that the situation of households and individual organizations may have been quite different, with many facing difficulties even though total donations have seen strong growth,” she said in a further statement. early this year.

At the Clinton Foundation, expenses and income were both down from 2019. The foundation reported total revenue of $ 29 million and $ 39.5 million in expenses for last year, which represents a shortfall of approximately $ 10.6 million.

Thurm, CEO of the foundation, wrote in the letter that the nonprofit’s work last year was “fully funded” by donations and endowment returns.

The foundation has built an endowment to keep its programs going and to ensure the long-term financial health of the organization, a spokesperson said.

The national increase in charitable giving did not seem to rub off on the Clinton Foundation. The wealthy have donated funds more locally during the pandemic, said Nicole Esparza, professor of nonprofit leadership and philanthropy at the University of Southern California.

“It’s a strategic gift,” she says.

A study found that the vast majority of affluent households either maintained or increased their donations. Among affluent households who donated to organizations meeting basic needs, more than a third increased their spending for these entities in 2020 as the country grappled with the pandemic, according to research from Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

“In some ways, 2020 is a story of uneven impact and uneven recovery,” Amir Pasic, dean of the school, said in a statement earlier this year. “Many better-off households were more immune to the effects of covid-19 and the economic shock that followed. The foundation’s net assets have grown from $ 312.8 million at the start of 2020 to $ 323.4 million at the end of the year, according to IRS statements. Total net assets include the foundation endowment and the liabilities held by the organization.

Deposits showed growth in the association’s endowment. The foundation’s endowment had an end-of-year 2020 balance of $ 235.1 million, an increase from the figure of $ 217 million for this period in 2019.

The association also significantly increased the amount of grants it distributed, giving away $ 4.2 million from $ 1.8 million in 2019.

The Clinton Presidential Center raised more than $ 400,000 last year, according to documents, which indicate that the center’s spending was $ 11.8 million, including $ 1.2 million in grants.

At first, the association focused on raising funds to build the presidential center. The organization’s mission then expanded to include topics such as child development and international economic development.

With the coronavirus pandemic, the association changed its work and focused on tackling inequalities made worse by the public health crisis, Thurm wrote.

“These new and expanded efforts have been essential in a year defined by the pandemic,” Thurm wrote.

The association coordinated with others a feeding program that distributed more than 700,000 meals. The Presidential Center served as the backdrop to the effort, with food prepared in the facility’s kitchens and meals packed in the Grand Ballroom.

“Last year, as the pandemic forced the Clinton Center to suspend most of our in-person operations, we redirected our staff and resources to meet our community’s most pressing needs,” said Stephanie Streett, executive director of the foundation.

Information for this article was provided by Frank E. Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The foundation has built an endowment to keep its programs going and to ensure the long-term financial health of the organization, a spokesperson said.

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