We Finally Know How Donald Trump Donates: Rounds of Golf, Little Cash
In an effort to provide grounding for Donald Trump’s long-unsubstantiated claim that he gave more than $102 million to charity in the past five years, his campaign compiled a 94-page list of his 4,844 contributions from Jan. 7, 2010, to May 22, 2015.
In The Washington Post’s analysis of the list, the paper found Trump hadn’t used his own money for any of those donations—many of which were free rounds of golf to his courses, provided for charity auctions and raffles.
According to the analysis, the four largest charitable gifts listed include:
- $63.8 million in conservation easements on various properties. The unspecified easements are land-conservation agreements in which Trump agreed not to undergo certain types of development on property he owns. (Easements also provide opportunities for federal tax deductions.) The Washington Post highlighted one such easement on land near a golf course in California that prevents Trump from building homes. Instead, it is now a driving range from which Trump makes money.
- A $26.1 million land donation to New York. In the list of charitable contributions, this donation is undated. In reality, it was made in 2006—not within the five-year confines.
- $7 million worth of gifts from the Donald J. Trump Foundation. As previously reported, Trump hasn’t made a single personal contribution to his foundation since a $30,000 donation in 2008. Instead, it is funded by contributions from others—like a $5 million donation from World Wrestling Entertainment’s Vince and Linda McMahon in 2007, and a $500,000 from NBC Universal in 2012—while Trump, as the foundation’s president, determines where the money goes.
- $6.4 million worth of gifts made by Trump’s golf courses, hotels and Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. The Washington Post estimated this includes 2,900 free rounds of golf, 175 free hotel stays, 165 free meals and 11 gift certificates to spas.
The analysis also indicated that Trump's philanthropy largely is tied to his business—frequently donating to those groups that paid to use his facilities.
In summer 2013, while Trump was trying to get the V Foundation to host a fundraiser at the Trump Winery in Virginia, the Trump Foundation donated $10,000 to the V Foundation. The V Foundation later held a fundraiser at the winery in August 2014. The American Cancer Society, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society all held fundraisers at his Mar-a-Lago Club—and all received donations from the foundation. Additionally, the foundation gave at least $194,000 to contestants’ preferred causes on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
The foundation also made a $158,000 donation to the Martin B. Greenberg Foundation—the same day Trump and company told the court they had reached a settlement in a lawsuit where Martin Greenberg said he failed to receive the $1 million prize offered to anyone who got a hole-in-one during a charity tournament at Trump’s golf course in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
Furthermore, The Washington Post’s analysis said small giveaways from Trump businesses account for only $6.4 million, but make up the bulk of the 4,844 donations.
Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer and treasurer of the Trump Organization, told The Washington Post that the reason none of the listed charitable contributions came in cash from Trump is that the list of gifts is not complete.
“We want to keep them quiet,” Weisselberg told The Washington Post. “He doesn’t want other charities to see it. Then it becomes like a feeding frenzy.”
This desire to keep his philanthropic good deeds quiet may come as a surprise. Particularly since just this weekend, NBC News reported that the billionaire had made a $100,000 donation to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum after his visit on Saturday.
According to The Washington Post, the Trump Foundation gave the money for this donation—and, according to Trump’s tax records for 2014 (the most recent year available), the billionaire made no personal contributions to the foundation since 2008.
The Washington Post also put the Trump Foundation’s giving record next to those of George Lucas and Sumner Redstone—two individuals tied with Trump at 324th place on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires.
In 2014, Lucas’ foundation donated $55 million to charities (two years after the filmmaker donated $295 million to the foundation) and Redstone donated $28 million to his foundation, which gifted $31 million. The Trump Foundation gave out $591,000.