Future of Clinton Foundation Uncertain

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Clinton Foundation following the 2016 presidential election, Bill Clinton has indicated that the foundation will be looking to expand its impact in 2017 and beyond.

In a letter accompanying the foundation's 2016 annual report, which highlights the foundation's many activities and achievements over the last fifteen years, Clinton noted that the organization would continue its efforts to combat childhood obesity and improve health across the United States, expand its Too Small to Fail initiative, and increase its focus on leadership development and public service through its Presidential Leadership Scholars and CGI University programs. The foundation also plans to continue its economic development work in several African nations through the Clinton Development Initiative, increase support for climate change mitigation through the Clinton Climate Initiative, and focus on empowering girls as a cross-cutting priority area.

"Clearly, we live in a world facing new manifestations of the old idea that our differences are more important than our common humanity," wrote Clinton. "Therefore, those of us who believe in a future of shared opportunities, shared responsibilities, and inclusive communities should redouble our efforts to build up the positive and reduce the negative forces of our interdependence."

As was planned irrespective of the election outcome, the Clinton Global Initiative — which brokered "commitments" designed to address global challenges from political, corporate, and philanthropic leaders and celebrities — has been shut down. The foundation also previously announced that, in the event Hillary Clinton were elected president, it would no longer accept foreign donations and that the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership and Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) would be spun off. According to the letter, CGEP will be spun off into an independent entity, while the foundation's work in Haiti will be spun off under the J/P Haitian Relief Organization with the support of the Digicel Foundation.

CHAI, a separate but affiliated entity with health programs in seventy countries, has put the changes it had planned to make on hold, the New York Times reports. "None of it's resolved," said Partners in Health co-founder and CHAI board member Paul Farmer. "Knowing what to do in this climate is a tough call."

The Clinton Foundation itself has considered scaling back other efforts, the Times reports, while staff members have prepared options for Bill and Chelsea Clinton to consider that include a number of new endeavors. Foundation president Donna Shalala acknowledged that the foundation's revenues — which fell from $338 million in 2014 to $299 million in 2015 — were down again in 2016, attributing the decline in part to voluntary restrictions and the fact that Bill and Chelsea Clinton, the foundation's primary fundraisers, were busy campaigning. During the  campaign, political opponents of Hillary Clinton criticized the foundation for its dealings with foreign donors and financiers while she served as secretary of state, even though no evidence of a quid pro quo ever surfaced.

"At the end of the day," said Shalala, who noted  it was unclear how long she herself would continue to serve as the foundation's president, "I think this is going to be as it always was: a creative, dynamic foundation that helps to improve the lives of millions."

Bill Clinton. "2016: Expanding Opportunity. Building Community." Clinton Foundation 2016 Annual Report Letter 02/03/2017. Sheri Fink, Steve Eder, Amy Chozick. "Soul-Searching at Clinton Foundation in Trump Era." New York Times 02/02/2017.