Thursday, February 23, 2012

Donations to Charity by Our 2012 Presidential Candidates

Source: Maggies Notebook
Today is going to be a political post. Wait, wait, wait!  Before you click away...

I'm not going to be supporting or promoting any particular candidate. I have faith that you can make those types of decisions for yourselves. I mean, you are smart enough to be visiting my blog. =)

But here is the purpose of this post:  All of our 2012 Presidential candidates are offering to make our country better by helping people. Some back it with their faith, allowing the promises and tenets of their proclaimed belief system to carry some weight with voters. Others are approaching it from a humanitarian point of view - helping those who are down and out because it's just the right thing to do. I'm not here to argue with either of those points of view.

What I am here to do today is present to you how our Presidential hopefuls have spent their own personal money in the past. Have they been living the type of life that promises philanthropy, care, and concern for those less fortunate than they know, before they were asking you to elect them?

Let's take a look:

Barack Obama:
Net Worth*:  $2.8 million - 11.8 million
2010 Income: $1,795,614
2010 Charitable Contributions: $245,075
Percentage of Giving**: 13.65%
Recipients of Donations: Fisher House Foundation which houses families of wounded military ($131,075 of his personal money), his Nobel Peace Prize award money was divided between 10 charities as listed: Fisher House Foundation ($250,000), Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund ($200,000), College Summit to increase college enrollment rates ($125,000), Posse Foundation for scholarships ($125,000), United Negro College Fund ($125,000), Hispanic Scholarship Fund ($125,000), American Indian College Fund ($125,000), Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation ($125,000), AfriCare which promotes health, food security and access to water primarily in Africa ($100,000), Central Asia Institute, which education and literacy, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan ($100,000)
Of Note: The Obamas' giving has increased steadily over the last few years.  In the early 2000s, it grew from 0.4% to 4.6%.  With the Presidency, Obama's wallet has opened up to more and more giving opportunities. His Nobel Prize winnings of $1.4 million in 2010 were donated directly to 10 organizations and therefore never went though his income tax return as income or donations.

Mitt Romney
Net Worth*:  $190 million - $250 million
2010 Income: $21,661,344
2010 Charitable Contributions: $2,983,974
Percentage of Giving**: 13.78 (between 13% - 16% over last few years)
Recipients of Donations: The majority of this was contributed to the Mormon church, as it is a tenet of their faith to donate a full tithe (10%) in order to be in good standing with God and their church. Other recipients were BYU ($300,000 and $1 million at different times), a homeless shelter for veterans ($10,000), Hurricane Katrina victims ($10,000), victims of south Asia earthquake and tsunami ($25,000), Becket Fund for Religious Liberty ($25,000), as well as various donations to charities helping children, cancer patients, MS patients, and wounded veterans, research and service organizations for cystic fibrosis, cancer, epilepsy, Lou Gehrig's Disease and AIDS, The Boy Scouts of America, the Boston Scholars program for disadvantaged students and the Massachusetts Children's Trust Fund to prevent child abuse, The United Way, Massachusetts Family Institute ($10,000), Massachusetts Citizens for Life ($15,000), andRight to Play ($100,000 over several years). There were also donations that helped restore community baseball fields, teach sailing in Boston and support the U.S. Olympic handball team, U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation ($20,000), and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston ($30,000 over several years).
Of Note: The most generous of the candidates, Romney has spread his wealth out to assist with charities for health concerns, political interests, children's welfare, veterans support, sports interests, as well as victims of various disasters and hurts.

Newt Gingrich
Net Worth*:  $6.7+ million
2010 Income: $3,162,424
2010 Charitable Contributions: $81,133
Percentage of Giving**: 2.57%
Recipients of Donations: $9540 to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was the largest donation of 2010. Previous years' giving includes Luther College in Decorah, Iowa ($30,000) in 2009 for a scholarship fund in his name, Atlanta Ballet ($2500), American Cancer Society ($500), American Museum of Natural History ($25,000), City of Fairfax Band Association ($5000), Oliver North’s Freedom Alliance ($2500), Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association ($12,500), the Pentagon Memorial fund ($1000), Pine Mountain Gold Museum in Villa Rica, Georgia ($100)
Of Note:Various organizations that Gingrich claims to have ties with are mysteries to his staff.  Do they not exist other than on paper or is he just quiet about his giving?

Ron Paul
Net Worth*:  $2.25 million - $5 million
2010 Income: Not yet reported
2010 Charitable Contributions:  Not yet reported
Percentage of Giving** Not yet reported

Rick Santorum
Net Worth*:  $880,000 - $1.9 million
2010 Income: $930,227
2010 Charitable Contributions: $16,289
Percentage of Giving**1.75%  (2.2% over last 4 years)
Recipients of Donations: No individual charities indicated on form submitted.
Of Note:"We should be proactive in finding ways to more fully engage the American public in charitable giving," Santorum said in a 2005 statement on the CARE Act, a bill he sponsored that sought to promote the interests of charities and provide incentives for Americans to donate. Also, a charity he started called Operation Good Neighbor has been under scrutiny for only using 45% of its revenue to help those it was established to help. The remainder of this money has been used for advertising and overhead.

Now, I am not going to try to tell you who to vote for. In fact, these numbers sicken me because there are some that don't "jive" with my feelings about who should be President.

And I'll readily admit that this only captures monetary donations and not donations of time and talents. But I really can't imagine that many of these gentlemen have a lot of extra time to donate to everyone, although I could be completely wrong about that. It also could be that there are donations that are not reported. I have no idea. I'm just presenting to you what is available.

All of this is presented before you to say this: if each of these candidates are going to tell you that they want to make things better and help people and support those who are less fortunate than themselves in order to provide for a better tomorrow in America, what does the way they live their personal lives reveal about their intentions and their rhetoric?

What do you make of this?  Does this support your feelings about your preferred candidate or make you squeamish?  Does it make any difference in all in your feelings about your vote?

*Just an FYI.
**Based on annual income not the net worth shown above.
Sources: Credit Sesame, Huffington Post, Washington Post, CNN Money 


  1. boy oh boy, I could open a whole can of worms talking politics. but I won't. :)

    monetary donations does say something about a person, but like you said, there are other donations as well, like this video about Mitt Romney helping clean up after a disaster when there were no news cameras around, just the owners of the house who took a few pictures:

    but I also think it's about the nature of the person. I think morals play a HUGE part of who should be the GOP pick. but that is another story. :)

    this is an interesting post. thank you for sharing!

  2. You're welcome, Tara and thank you for putting in your comments. =) I struggled with how to write this post without bashing certain candidates and supporting others. Some of this post agrees with my feelings and other parts of it don't. I'm personally torn about who to vote for for various reasons that I don't plan on discussing on my blog. I too just found it an interesting view of our candidates and wondered if anyone cared about their personal donations. =)

  3. This was fascinating. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

  4. Yes thank you, this was interesting and you did an excellent job writing it without showing partiality.

    The husband and I like the song called A Savior on Capitol Hill by Derek Webb. I don't generally like/listen to his music but this song is more like a parody and is upbeat.