Former President Barack Obama’s foundation kicked up fundraising in the weeks since Obama left office on Jan. 20, disclosures released on Thursday show, landing the co-founder of Twitter as a major donor and, for the first time, soliciting contributions from smaller givers.
Evan Williams, now the CEO of the California-based website Medium, with his wife, Sara Morishige, donated between $750,000 and $1 million through another foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Williams is no stranger to the Obama orbit. In 2012, he donated $250,000 to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC created to bolster Obama’s second term re-election bid.
Each year, in its annual IRS 990 filing, the Obama Foundation lists its major donors and the specific amount they give.
Each quarter, the foundation voluntarily discloses new givers but clouds how much money was given by stating the contribution only within a broad range. The Obama Foundation could — but does not — disclose more clearly each quarter to make sense of the numbers, since the ranges are so vast.
In its first quarter 2017 disclosure, the Obama Foundation reveals its first million-dollar plus donors, Ann and John Doerr and Cari and Michael Sacks.
John Doerr, a billionaire venture capitalist, and Michael Sacks, the chairman and CEO of GCM Grosvenor, an investor in the company that owns the Chicago Sun-Times, and adviser to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, are both on the Obama Foundation board.
The new filing, which is tucked in an obscure place on the Obama Foundation website shows Sacks kicked up his giving to more than $1 million. In the last donor posting on Dec. 16, 2016, the Sacks and the Doerrs were listed as giving between $500,001 and $1 million.
Obama declined to make direct asks for contributions while in the White House, though he did small events, such as private dinners with potential donors.
The higher level of major giving is expected to jump as the Foundation spreads its wings in programming and planning for the Obama Center, a library, museum and event space to be constructed in Jackson Park on Chicago’s South Side. The Foundation also must raise hundreds of millions to pay for the building and endowment of the Obama Center.
“The bulk of those small donor amounts have come in through web online contributions,” Obama Foundation President Marty Nesbitt told the Sun-Times. “We didn’t turn that on until the President was out of office.”
John Rogers Jr., a longtime friend of Obama and former first lady Michelle, and his daughter Victoria made an additional contribution to the foundation. Previously they gave between $250,000 and $500,000. On Thursday, they were listed in the $500,000 to $750,000 range. Rogers is an Obama Foundation board member and CEO and founder of Ariel Investments.
OBAMA FOUNDATION LEAPS INTO GLOBAL ARENA
The Obama foundation is also making its first international move, co-hosting a program in Berlin to take place on May 25 at the Brandenburg Gate with Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Obama’s first domestic post-presidential speech will be on May 7, when Caroline Kennedy, who played a pivotal role in his 2008 election and went on to become his ambassador to Japan, awards him the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award.
According to his office, Obama’s first international appearance since leaving the White House will be in Milan, where he will be a keynoter on May 9 at the “Global Food Innovation Summit.