Disclosure statement

Brian Mittendorf does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive resources from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no appropriate affiliations past their academic appointment.

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The Clintons comment on their college initiative in 2014. Samantha Sais/Reuters

What are the Clinton charities?

We start with what organizations make up the network that Clinton charities.

First up is the Clinton family members Foundation, i m sorry was collection up in 2001 as a private structure to straight the family’s own an individual giving yet doesn’t engage in any type of charitable tasks of that is own.

It acts like any other private structure in the the family members makes donations come it, and also the organization (over time) disburses accumulation to operation public charities.

From 2010 to 2014, the Clintons provided US$10.2 million the their income to the household Foundation, i m sorry disbursed $9.8 million to charities end the exact same period. That that, $2.86 million (29 percent) go to initiatives tied come the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the main operating public charity they started in 1998. The continuing to be $6.96 million visited a selection of charities, both local and national, aimed in ~ varied reasons ranging from education to health care to the environment.

The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton structure is basically the “parent” company of assorted initiatives and also offshoots, a couple of of which have actually been (at times) legally distinct from yet remain controlled by the parent. This team of organizations, which includes the Clinton an international Initiative (CGI), Clinton Health accessibility Initiative (CHAI) and also the Clinton Giustra enterprise Partnership (CGEP), is collectively called “The Clinton Foundation.”

The numerous different campaigns reflects the large and frequently shifting goals of the organization, which we comment on next.


Chelsea Clinton, the foundation’s vice chair, obtain a gift from a Haitian girl throughout a 2015 trip. Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters

So what go the Clinton foundation do?

The activities of the Clinton structure are a resource of numerous misconceptions, which is understandable given the wide range of them.

For starters, it’s necessary to stress that the Clinton foundation (unlike the family Foundation) is an operating public charity, which method (1) that relies greatly on donations from the general public, and (2) the does not generally act come disburse accumulation to other charities but rather engages in direct “on-the-ground” services.

The an initial point is noteworthy because the Clintons’ personal giving of about $2.86 million to the structure accounted for just 0.4 percent the its $807 million in contributions from 2010 come 2014.

Other funders incorporate individuals (Gateway cofounder Theodore W. Waitt and former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher), foundations (Gates and Rockefeller), enterprise (Coca-Cola and Barclays) and also even foreign governments (Norway, Australia and also Saudi Arabia).


invoice Gates and his foundation are among the Clinton Foundation’s best donors. Brendan McDermid/Reuteres

It’s additionally important because soliciting donations from so numerous other individuals and also entities – few of whom had personal connections through the Clintons or attention in State Department company – is what has actually fueled plenty of criticisms levied in ~ the organization.

The 2nd point matters because some rival politicians have used the low percentage of donations or grants that it provides to various other charities as proof it spends small on charity works. In this case, however, the lion’s share of the organization’s routine spending is because that on-the-ground efforts. Study I performed with a partner demonstrates the this have the right to actually be an indicator the greater effectiveness than grants alone.

Some that the foundation’s many notable tasks – and also where lot of that money is invested – space run through the three institutions I discussed earlier.

The Clinton Health access Initiative has long been the biggest of the organization’s initiatives and also is now run as a separate legal entity. When the foundation currently retains regulate by appointing a bulk of the board, the charity vowed ~ above Sept. 14 to end this link and separate CHAI fully if Clinton wins in November.

CHAI has operated to secure discounted pharmaceuticals and also other supplies for distribution, and increase avenues for health treatment in over 70 countries, consisting of India, south Africa, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

The Clinton global Initiative represents both the most innovative and also most controversial regimen of the organization. CGI serves to complement individuals and organizations ready to invest in tasks aimed toward an essential public goals with charities and businesses seeking resources for their enterprises. Instances include capital loans come disabled veteran entrepreneurs and also providing money because that clinics in small villages in China.

In a sense, CGI serves a duty similar come Uber’s in providing a communication to facilitate a mutually advantageous match. In this case, the enhance is aimed in ~ securing accumulation to accomplish social goals. Choose Uber, the method has the potential come accelerate task (as confirmed by hundreds of millions that dollars in CGI commitments in 2015 alone). Additionally like Uber, the company has confronted the difficulty of vetting the next it matches (as shown by concerns about funding gift secured for a for-profit enterprise run by friends of the Clintons).

Clinton Giustra enterprise Partnership additionally brings both praise and criticism for its unique approach. With capital from Canadian billionaire candid Giustra and partnerships through Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, CGEP represents a hybrid design that provides funding to enterprises, many of which are for-profit, that seek to attain Clinton foundation goals.

Blurring the boundaries between for-profit and also nonprofit activities, CGEP is front of the curve in seeking new ways to attain social great (the Chan Zuckerberg plan is another notable newcomer come this arena). Yet, that approach, both in terms of its resources sources and also its capital uses, additionally subjects the company to criticism.

The Clinton Foundation’s various other on-the-ground efforts run the gamut indigenous helping institutions develop and also deliver healthy food selections (Alliance for a healthier Generation) and also providing farming and also economic aid in underdeveloped nations (Clinton advance Initiative) to supporting the Clinton Presidential center in Arkansas.

Along through CHAI, plenty of of the foundation’s other campaigns will most likely be be crazy off or removed if Clinton is chosen president.


invoice Clinton has frequently been the foundation’s public face. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

How does the Clinton structure spend that money?

The last area of common misunderstanding is just how the organization’s funds room spent.

To resolve this inquiry best, the place to walk is their audited gaue won statements, i m sorry consolidate the activities of all the reality that consist of the Clinton Foundation.

As a allude of context, take into consideration the organization’s size. In 2014, the Clinton structure had expenses of $250 million, which put it smaller than the venerable peer the Carter center at $332 million however much larger than the Donald J. Trump card Foundation, which spent $597,000 in its most recent year.

As for whereby those accumulation went, the first thing to keep in mind is what the doesn’t spend a lot of money on: overhead. In its most recent audited financials, the Clinton structure reported security 87.2 percent ~ above programs and also services, which way 12.8 percent is going to “overhead” – administrative and also fundraising costs. While not the ultimate arbiter the effectiveness, together a number is well above the 65 percent come 75 percent variety of regime spending often said as a rule-of-thumb.

The Clinton Health accessibility Initiative alone account for practically two-thirds that all regimen spending, or $143 million. That’s maybe no surprised given an international health has actually been a longstanding focus of the organization. The remainder goes to the an international Initiative (11 percent), the Giustra enterprise Partnership (3 percent) and a selection of various other projects.

This tells united state where the money go in regards to the split among different goals, yet another key question is what is the money supplied for specifically. While some might think that on-the-ground activities method supplies and also cash aid, charitable organizations likewise spend much of your money ~ above labor, meetings and also travel. The Clinton foundation is no exception, through labor, meetings and travel accountancy for 37 percent, 12 percent and also 8 percent of regime spending, respectively.

Evaluating a charity

So where does this leave us?

Clearly the Clinton structure is a facility organization the does a wide range of charitable activities, is sponsor by numerous individuals and organizations and spends the majority of its money ~ above the programs and initiatives that meet its goals. That said, its choices over wherein to invest money top top the ground are open to criticism over whether donor resources are being used to their ideal potential. It’s a complicated question the financial declaration aren’t detailed enough to provide (and is really something that all charities grapple with internally).

Still, being concentrated on developing relationships through funders and also partner governments, supplying on-the-ground training and assistance and also convening meetings of funding providers indicate labor, travel, and also meeting expenses should be crucial components of any type of charity. And also in the regard, the Clinton Foundation’s spending looks prefer you may expect it to given its methods and goals.

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These room all points worth bearing in mental the next time you review a headline around the Clinton Foundation.