The amount the Clinton Foundation is seeking to raise is small compared with giant philanthropies; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for instance, has an endowment of about $37 billion.
Still, the ability to spend millions annually in pursuit of targeted good causes is something any politician would envy. And the pre-campaign aura around Hillary Clinton is driving more money and attention to the foundation.
“Are people saying, ‘Listen, get in line for Hillary for President by raising money for the foundation?’ ” the foundation fundraiser said. “You don’t hear anybody saying that. It’s almost implicit. If you want to be in the action, go where the action is. And right now, the action in Clintonland is at the foundation.”
A second foundation fundraiser said: “There are people who give to the foundation to cozy up to Hillary Clinton. Anybody who tells you that doesn’t happen is full of [crap].”
But Lindsey said he believes the foundation’s charitable projects should be reward enough to make donations. “I frankly don’t have a clue what the motives are of the people who support the Clinton Foundation,” he said. “I’m just grateful for their support. The work we do is important.”
The Clintons held a fundraiser Friday at celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, N.Y., near their rented beach house, and have another planned on Sept. 9 in Washington. For $1,000 a person, guests can attend a cocktail reception at the Italian Embassy. And for $25,000 a couple, they get dinner with the Clintons at their residence across the street.
In San Francisco on Nov. 9, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton will host a “Millennium Network” event aimed at cultivating a younger generation of philanthropists. According to an invitation, there are six tiers of donations, ranging from $150 for individuals to $15,000 for a couple seeking a photograph with Hillary Clinton.
“It’s very smart of her to do something so accessible,” said Wade Randlett, one of President Obama’s top Silicon Valley fundraisers. “Out here, both big donors and small ones are uncomfortable with anything that smacks of ‘elites.’ ”
This fall’s events, including the London concert weekend with all three Clintons on Oct. 11-12, raise money for annual operations, foundation officials said. Endowment-focused events will not begin for several months.
The Clintons personally have begun intensive outreach to elite donors, seeking individual gifts of $5 million to $10 million, one official said. They soon will broaden their appeal to those who might give lesser amounts, perhaps $500,000 to $1 million.
Officials declined to identify these donors or say how much they might have pledged. But likely endowment funders include Canadian mining executive Frank Giustra and Chicago businessman Fred Eychaner, who have given more than $25 million each to the foundation, as well as film producer Stephen L. Bing and entertainment executive Haim Saban, whose gifts have ranged between $10 million and $25 million each.