Is a charitable donation to your own charity really that charitable? It might be. I’m not saying it couldn’t be, but it’s a little head-scratching when you’re a wealthy person who gets to write off the donation on their taxes.
For the “first time,” as the Chicago Sun-Times pointed out, former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have pledged to donate $1 million to their own foundation, the Obama Foundation.
It’s not exactly clear what the Obama Foundation does, considering the “About the Foundation” section of the charity’s website sounds like the typical jargon that would come from a “community organizer.”
Here’s what that section notes about the foundation:
The Obama Foundation is guided by a core belief: that ordinary people working together can change history. Our mission is to inspire those people to take action, empower them to change their world for the better, and connect them so they can achieve more together than they can alone.
We were founded by community organizers, so when we seek change, we do it by bringing people together.
That approach begins at home, on the South Side of Chicago, where we are building the Obama Presidential Center. The Obama Presidential Center represents a historic opportunity for Chicago: a chance to build a world-class museum and public gathering space that celebrates our nation’s first African American President and First Lady, steps away from where he began his career, where she was raised, and where—together—they made their home.
But that approach extends to all our work, whether it’s holding leadership training sessions in communities throughout the U.S., bringing local leaders together in countries around the world, working to support the global education of girls, or ensuring young men of color have pathways to opportunity.
Oooookay. So what does the foundation actually do? It sounds like at least part of the mission of the organization is to partially fund the proposed Obama Presidential Center, which will be located in the Jackson Park area of Chicago.
Typically when a president leaves office, they have a new library named after them. But, the Obama Presidential Center is practically going to be its own neighborhood, including a museum, the obligatory library, a “plaza,” a “program and athletic center” - reportedly funded in part by a $5 million gift from Nike - and a forum. Oh, and not to mention the parks and other features the "Center" will supposedly have.
The idea behind building the proposed area, according to the statement above, is to build a “public gathering space that celebrates” everything Obama. The foundation website claims that the very large space will “draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, creating thousands of new jobs on the South Side” of Chicago.
From the sound of it, the Obama Foundation is more concerned with gaining global influence than helping people in this country. Besides the “leadership training sessions in communities throughout the U.S., the rest of the foundation’s mission statement sounds like a United Nations lecture. And Lord knows, there are enough homeless people in the U.S. to where a truly charitable foundation could help Americans in need.
The Obamas have profited greatly since leaving the White House, signing a book deal with publisher Penguin Random House for an astounding $65 million advance. The Obamas also signed a deal with Netflix to produce content for the streaming service, and judging by the way Netflix just throws money at everything, the deal with the Obamas couldn’t have been for chump change.
According to a financial audit of the foundation’s 2016 and 2017 financial position, which is posted on the charity's website, “Contributions and pledges receivable” skyrocketed from about $2.8 million in 2016 to about $162.9 million in 2017.
I honestly hope the Obama Foundation helps those in need instead of just helping aid the Obamas bank account. Charity is for helping others, not yourself.
Let’s just hope this isn’t another Clinton Foundation.