The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation (the Clinton Foundation) has now released its 2013 financial reports to the public. Given the substantial public interest in all things Clinton, I thought I would discuss a few observations from these financials.
First, though, a couple of caveats:
- Consolidated financial statements have not yet been released, so I am instead relying on the Form 990 filings of the organization. This means I am excluding the activities of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and any other related entities and focusing solely on the foundation itself.
- Since the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) merged with the Clinton Foundation in 2013, I am using 2012 totals of the two organizations for any comparisons across time (with grants provided from one to another excluded).
With those caveats, here are some observations from the Clinton Foundation Financials:
- The Clinton Foundation saw an 81% (or $64,704,085) increase in contributions in 2013. This increase primarily reflects the successes of their efforts to build a permanent endowment – their permanent endowment increased from $250,000 to $59,013,848.
- Already much has been made of the foundation's increase in travel costs - up 68% to $8,448,502 in 2013 (representing 10% of expenses). Given the size of the increase, it would behoove the organization to provide some details about why the travel budget increased so substantially. One may at first think it is due to greater fundraising efforts (given their fundraising successes in 2013); however, 81% of the increase is due to travel identified as program-related. All that said, the overall travel budget is not unusual. As an example, the Carter Center financial reports from 2013 show travel expenses of $12,622,550 (representing 16% of expenses).
- A perhaps more unusual line item is the amount of expenditures on conferences & meetings, which amounted to $9,224,775, or 11% of expenses. Though this line item cost is very similar to that in 2012 (it's actually a 3% decrease), it does greatly exceed that of the Carter Center, for whom conferences & meetings represent only 2% of expenses. With 98% of all conferences & meetings costs being treated as program-related, some more explanation from the organization may be in order.
- Many are likely to express concern that the organization chose to redact the names of its major donors (in Schedule B). However, as a 501(c)(3) organization, that is their right, and this practice is quite common.
- Compensation too is a typical target of those seeking to criticize an organization. In this case, the best I can say is that there is not much that is atypical. For the Clinton Foundation, compensation represented 27% of expenses in 2013, as compared to 26% in 2012 and 24% for the Carter Center – any differences are hardly material.
- Finally, it is worth noting that the financial statements took a long time to be released. The financials were available to the public in August last year, and not released until November this year (and, as noted above, the consolidated financials are still not available).