June 29, 2015

Clinton Foundation and Speaker Fees: What's Appropriate for Nonprofits?

Andrew Burton, Getty Images
Former U.S. Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton speaks at a press conference announcing a new initiative between the Clinton Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, titled Data 2x on December 15, 2014 in New York City.

Nonprofits have paid the Clinton Foundation up to $11.7 million over the past decade in exchange for speeches by Bill, Hillary, or Chelsea Clinton, according to a new Politico report

Nonprofits have long paid speaking fees to attract high-profile speakers to events, but the Clinton payments have raised new questions about mixing politics and charities. It has also touched off debate about whether celebrities attract enough donations and visibility to nonprofit causes to warrant paying them substantial sums.

Amy Costello, founder and host of Tiny Spark, discussed these issues with Doug White,  director of Columbia University's fundraising-management program, and Politico reporter Kenneth Vogel, who investigated the Clintons’ speaking fees. 

In response to Politico's reporting, a Clinton spokesman told Ms. Costello that President Clinton often charges no fee for his speeches to charities and noted that many of the institutions that were charged fees were universities that have substantial budgets for paying people to lecture at campus events.

Listen now and add your thoughts in the comments section.