There Are Charities, and There Are Charities

The Daily Caller has some numbers on the Clinton Foundation, which is pleased to refer to itself as a charity.  The Clinton Foundation spent, according to its 2014 Form 990 (the latest available)

  • a hair under $91.3 million in 2014
  • $34.8 million on salaries, compensation, and employee benefits.
  • Another $50.4 million was marked as “other expenses”


Despite taking in an additional $30 million in 2014, the Clinton Foundation spent 40% less on charitable grants in 2014 than in 2013. Even as it slashed charitable spending, the foundation increased the amount spent on salaries, employee benefits and compensation by $5 million in 2014.

Here are those 2014 vs 2013 numbers, taken from lines 8-19 of the Foundation’s 990 (rounded, in dollars):

Item 2013 2014 Change
Contributions and grants 142,900,000 172,600,000 +29,700,000
Grants and similar amounts paid 8,900,000 5,200,000 -3,700,000
Salaries, compensation, employee benefits 29,900,000 34,800,000 +4,900,000
Other expenses 45,300,000 50,400,000 +5,100,000

“Other expenses” include things like “legal” and “accounting” (small amounts); “occupancy,” “travel,” and “conferences” ($25 million); “other program expenses” (nearly $3 million), and so on.

Wait, what did the Clinton Foundation spend on actual charity?  Those “grants and similar…”: $5.2 million, down 42% from 2013, despite a 21% increase in revenue (those “contributions and grants”) over 2013.

Of the total Foundation spending of some $91.3 million (I’ve omitted some minor spending in my table above), the Foundation only spent those $5.2 million on “grants and similar….”  That works out to less than 6% of the money spent going to actual charities.  The rest went to the Foundation’s and Foundation personnel’s personal benefit.

There’s also this curious datum from the Clinton Foundation’s 990:

Under Liabilities (Part X, Line 18): “Grants payable” is $0.00 for both 2013 and 2014.  It’s an unusually efficient “charity” that has all of its charitable commitments fully paid by the end of every year.

TDC says that a well run charity spends only about 25% on administrative costs.  Take that with a grain of salt; I’ve seen numbers as low as 10% on admin, and numbers above 30%.  In any event, the Clinton Foundation doesn’t even come close to a decent or proper charity to expense ratio.

As Rick Moran, of PJMedia, put it in his description of these data,

If there’s a better definition of “pay for play,” I have yet to hear it.

The Clinton Foundation tax return can be seen here or here.

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