by Katy Snyder, JVA Consulting Grantwriter/Editor
The White House blog and an article in the Star Tribune recently revealed the giving preferences of the Obamas, Bidens, Bushes and Cheneys. The Obamas donated a combined total of $329,100 to a variety of charities, with their largest donations to the United Negro College Fund and Care. They also contributed sizable amounts to the Boys and Girls Club, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and the National MS Society. Their donations amounted to six percent of their total income of $5.5 million. Not included in this percentage is the $1.4 million that Obama received for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, which he also donated (and is not considered part of his taxable income). According to the article, the 40 charities the Obamas donated to showed a preference for health and education causes.
While the Obamas’ donation was significantly larger than the Bidens, who donated just 1.5 percent of their income, it was much smaller than the amount the Bush family donated when they were in office. The Bushes donated $165,600 in 2007, which was 18 percent of their income for that year. The Cheneys donated 5.5 percent of their income.
A Razoo article sheds more light on recent presidents’ philanthropy, giving Jimmy Carter high marks for donating 20 percent of his income in 1977 to charitable organizations and creating the Carter Foundation, which currently has a net worth of over $135 million. Both Bushes were also big givers, and the Clintons got a nod as well for donating $10.2 million between 2000 and 2007 (much of it to the Clinton Foundation, which then grants the money out to smaller organizations).
While all the presidents and vice presidents (with the exception of the Bidens) listed above donate more than the 2.1 percent (source) that wealthy Americans donate on average, do you think they could do more? How much and to what charities do you think the President should donate? And what about those Bidens? For all of Obama’s talk about public service, is it time he had a talk with the Bidens about increasing their charitable giving?