Clinton Foundation President Donna E. Shalala mailed the following letter to foundation and philanthropy leaders this week.
As you know, philanthropy matters. We play a unique role in alleviating human suffering and advancing solutions that make the world a safer, better, and more sustainable place; and, over the past fifteen years, we increasingly do so as partners with businesses, nonprofits, governments and individuals. As President of the Clinton Foundation, I am honored to serve alongside you as we expand what’s possible for modern philanthropy.
Seeing many of you at the final Clinton Global Initiative meeting was a vivid reminder that all of us doing this work share a serious commitment to improving the livelihoods of women, men, and children around the world, and are equally serious about doing so in a transparent and responsible manner. I am proud that Charity Navigator recently gave us four stars, joining top ratings from Charity Watch and Guidestar.
Our dedication to the people who benefit from our work is also why the Clinton Foundation, as the election nears, has been preparing how to operate in the future. As colleagues, I wanted to ensure that you know our full plans going forward.
As many of you know, regardless of the results in November, we will no longer hold Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual or CGI America meetings. We are enormously proud of CGI. It is a unique event and strategy that has in many ways reinvented philanthropy, bringing together many of you with nonprofits, corporations and governments in partnerships with the goal of bettering lives and livelihoods around the world. Participation by many of you it is what made CGI a success, and we are deeply grateful for your collaboration and support.
If Secretary Clinton wins, we know that further changes will be required. We would immediately stop accepting new foreign and corporate donations, and President Clinton would resign from the Board and not raise money for our programs.
For our international programs — those that depend in part on support from donor governments’ bilateral aid programs — we would either transition the projects to partner organizations committed to continuing our critical work or spin them off into independent entities.
Two of our largest programs to be transitioned have resulted in more than 11.5 million people gaining access to HIV-AIDS treatment and over 600,000 people impacted through market opportunities created by social enterprises and health and wellbeing programs in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) — an affiliated entity — would become a fully independent organization. All Clinton Foundation appointees would resign from the board, including President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, and the Clinton name would be dropped from the organization’s name. The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP) would also spin off into a separate nonprofit.
The Clinton Presidential Center and Library in Little Rock, Arkansas would continue as the primary focus of the Clinton Foundation. We would continue our financial support for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, our partnership with the American Heart Association, which is a separate 501©(3) with an independent board. And, we would continue some of our domestic programs — efforts that combat childhood obesity, address the opioid epidemic and decrease the prevalence of preventable diseases, and improve brain development in the first five years of life — most of which are supported by partnerships with U.S.-based independent foundations like yours.
You can read more about our impact here in the United States and around the world at clintonfoundation.org/behindthenumbers.
While plans are still in development for the remaining programs of the Foundation that would need to be transitioned, we are making good progress. We have been in initial discussions with partners who might potentially take over these programs. Our concern for the people we serve has been the most important factor in our transition process.
Because we are a large foundation — with initiatives and affiliated programs that help women in the developing world climb out of poverty, give children living with HIV increased access to life-saving drugs, and help communities recover from major disasters — this transition requires a reasonable amount of time to complete.
We have learned from many of you that carrying out a major transition responsibly requires careful planning. We looked to the leadership of organizations like the Ford Foundation, and most recently, the MacArthur Foundation, which announced last year that it was leaving the fields of housing, juvenile justice, reproductive health and digital learning, and chose a timeline that allows the programs to find new homes and continue to thrive. This is a strategy that many of you have used over the past decades.
If Secretary Clinton wins, we would make our changes as quickly as possible, but with the same level of care. Our goal would be to transition our programs while ensuring that there are no negative consequences to beneficiaries. We are also mindful that these decisions would impact many employees in the United States and in several countries around the world.
Big changes aren’t easy for our beneficiaries, or staff, or President Clinton and Chelsea. But we are dedicated to implementing them in a way that is seamless, ensures the continued success of what we’ve started, and honors and protects the lives we touch all over the world.
We appreciate your understanding and support. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or advice.
Donna E. Shalala