Tracking Obama’s Donation Money

The former President, Barack Obama gave away more than $1 million while he lead our country as the President of the United States. More than half of President Obama’s donation money went to support children’s charities, according to a Forbes analysis of his tax returns from 2009 to 2015.

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The biggest recipient of Obama’s donation was the Fisher House Foundation, which supports families of veterans and received $392,000 from the former commander in chief from 2009 to 2015.

That money appears to have come from sales of Obama’s children’s book Of Thee I Sing. Just before entering the White House, Obama finished a manuscript for the book, which he published with Random House. Obama’s donation pledged all of his post-tax proceeds from the book to the Fisher House Foundation to support a scholarship fund for children of wounded and fallen soldiers. 

He gave away $190,000 more to children’s causes, including $48,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs. He also gave away $19,500 to the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit. Another $13,500 went to the Christopher House, a Chicago-based group that supports poor working families. Even after he moved to Washington, Obama remained loyal to his Chicago roots. He poured $11,500 into the Midtown Educational Foundation, which offers enrichment programs to poor urban youth in the Windy City, and he gave $20,500 to two groups fighting hunger in Illinois.

REALATED: Barack Obama Net Worth

It is difficult to know exactly how much Donald Trump gave to all charities over the same stretch because he has not released his tax returns. But filings for the Donald J. Trump Foundation reveal that he gave $0 to his own charitable foundation from 2009 to 2014, the most recent year on record. (He donated $2.8 million from 2001 to 2008.) After he stopped giving in 2009, other donors gave $4.4 million to the Trump foundation over the next six years, which Trump in turn doled out to various groups, apparently fooling some recipients into thinking the money came from him. 

President Obama handed out his own money after national tragedies. He gave $2,000 to a fund for families affected by the Boston bombing in 2013 and another $2,000 to the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, which promotes gun control, three years after a shooter terrorized Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Some specific projects he supported as president also received his private money. After a 2010 earthquake rattled Haiti, Obama met with former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and they agreed to head up the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, which raised money for the impoverished nation. Obama donated $15,000 to the fund in its first year and $1,000 the next year. He also pitched in $17,000 to help pay for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which opened in 2011.

Over the years, the Obamas’ giving habits changed. From 2000 to 2004, Barack and Michelle Obama disclosed giving away just $10,770, despite making $1.2 million before taxes. When their earnings exploded after Obama joined the U.S. Senate, their giving increased as well. They gave away $550,000 while Obama was on Capitol Hill, when he earned $610,000 from his Senate salary and $7.5 million as an author. Churches received more than $50,000 from Obama while he was in the Senate but less than $10,000 during his time in the White House. His overall giving, however, increased after leaving the Senate. Altogether the Obamas gave away $1.1 million while earning $10.8 million before taxes in the White House.


Obama’s donation gave $5,000 to the Beau Biden Foundation, which supports children’s causes, in 2015, the same year former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau, passed away. It’s possible that Obama gave away more than just the donations he declared on his tax returns. After the former president honored Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in January, Biden told a story about one time when he was considering selling his house to help support the family of his son Beau, who at that point was sick and considering stepping down as attorney general of Delaware.

“We were having a private lunch like we do once a week,” Biden said. “And this man got up, came over, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said, ‘Don’t you sell that house. You love that house.’ I said, ‘It’s no big deal, Mr. President.’ He said, ‘I’ll give you the money. We’ll give you the money. Promise me, promise me you won’t sell that house.’”

The $1.1 million of Obama’s donation were declared on his tax returns also do not include the $1.4 million he directed the Nobel Committee to give 10 charities after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. The biggest recipient of those funds was, again, the Fisher House Foundation, which got $250,000. Another $200,000 went to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, and most of the rest went to various scholarship funds.

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