News and analysis
July 30, 2015

Clinton Foundation, Aiming to Quiet Critics, Releases Donor Data

Max Zorin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

More than 10,500 people contributed to the Clinton Foundation in the first half of this year, up from 8,801 during the same period last year. The fund released giving data after critics complained about a lack of transparency during Hillary Clinton's stint in the State Department and during her presidential campaign.

The Clinton Foundation took a major step Thursday toward keeping its promise of increased transparency by updating its online database to reflect contributions through the end of June.

It has pledged to provide quarterly updates on gifts and grants following months of criticism about foreign donors. The New York-based foundation — which had total revenue of $294 million in 2013, according to its 2013 Form 990 — did not tally total revenue for the first half of 2015 but said it increased as compared to the previous year.

The foundation did release the number of donors — 10,516 — up from 8,801 during the same period in 2014. Those who contributed so far in 2015 included 4,257 new donors and 6,259 returning donors.

The three donors and grant makers who contributed at least $25,000,000 by the first half of 2015 included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Nationale Postcode Loterij, the charity lottery in the Netherlands; and Frank Giustra, a Canadian business executive whose contributions to the foundation and travels with the Clintons have drawn fire.

About 90 percent of the donations were $100 less or less, consistent with previous years, the foundation said.

More Transparency

The foundation and its donor rolls faced heavy scrutiny as the Clintons prepped for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s April 12 announcement that she would seek the Democratic nomination for president. Critics said the foundation failed to sufficiently disclose money from foreign donors and governments and raised questions about whether contributions were being used to buy face time, or more, with the politically powerful Clinton clan.

The Clinton Foundation has denied wrongdoing. In April, it said it would take a number of steps to increase transparency. In addition to the quarterly reports, it suspended Clinton Global Initiative international events, which in recent years had attracted prominent names and big checks. It promised to refuse money from foreign governments except from a half dozen Western nations friendly with the United States that have previously funded Clinton Foundation programs.

Then acting CEO Maura Pally said that the foundation would also refile its Form 990 to correct a reporting error that mixed government grants with other donations.

In a statement on Thursday, Donna Shalala, president of the foundation, said that she and Chelsea Clinton had recently spent a week in Haiti to see the work the foundation is doing there. More than 300,000 donors are helping to lift farmers out of poverty, support renewable energy projects, and empower women, she said.

"We are encouraged by the increased support that we have received this year, which has reinforced the foundation’s operational strength, and we know that donors are giving more because they are seeing the impact of our work across the globe," Ms. Shalala said.

Ms. Shalala is new to the foundation. She took the helm last month following 14 years as president of the University of Miami, where she solidified her track record as a prodigious fundraiser. In an interview with The Chronicle in May, Ms. Shalala, a longtime friend of the Clintons, said she revels in working at "messy institutions."