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Barack Obama Foundation raises relatively little money in 2015

Martin Nesbitt, chairman of the Barack Obama Foundation, outlines an ambitious drive to include the South Side community in the planning process for the Obama Presidential Center at the City Club of Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015 in Chicago. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times via AP

WASHINGTON — The Barack Obama Foundation, headquartered in Chicago, raised relatively little money in 2015, according to a Friday disclosure, by design not building off the announcement in May that the Obama Center will be built on the city’s South Side.

Instead, the big push for hundreds of millions of dollars will come after President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle leave office next year.

In May, I reported “after raising $5.4 million in 2014, the Chicago-based Barack Obama foundation is scaling back its fundraising this year and dropping the use of an outside fundraising firm.”

While the foundation does voluntarily disclose donors, it does not provide hometowns or occupations or other clues to figure out who some of the contributors are for sure.

The foundation created a disclosure system designed to obfuscate the amount of the exact donation of contributors listed on its website or when they give.

The foundation doesn’t keep the donor list in a manner where you can tell who donated by year. It’s just a running list and it is impossible to determine who gave when unless you keep screenshots from the website.

I hope foundation chair Martin Nesbitt changes the way the foundation does business and installs a system that will be as user-friendly as he wants the Obama Center to be for the visitors and the community where it will be built.

The good news is the foundation files an IRS tax form 990 each year listing the donors and their precise contributions. The 990 for the 2014 tax year was released last May.

Contributors who gave in the last part of 2015 include at the top tier,between $500,000 and $1 million, the Ian Simmons through its ImpactAssets Donor Advised Fund and the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, making a payment on a pledge its board previously approved.

In the $200 to $100,000 range – which is a mighty big spread – those giving something were Ellen Benson, already a donor; Nicholas Alexos; Alison & John Shulman and the Lawrence Z. & Jaqueline A. Stern Foundation.

In the quarter covering April, May and June, the donations came from Ellen Benson; Family of Joe “Butch” Martin; Jennifer and Jeremy Haile and Donald E. Butterfield. They gave somewhere between $200 and $100,000.

Here’s the latest list of all donors, with the latest donations as of Dec. 31 noted by an *

Contributor Information

$500,001 to $1,000,000

Fred Eychaner

Cari and Michael J. Sacks

Lise Strickler & Mark Gallogly

Marilyn and Jim Simons

Scott Miller and Tim Gill*

Ian Simmons through ImpactAssets Donor Advised Fund*

The Joyce Foundation*

$250,001 to $500,000

Sonya and Tom Campion

Tim Collins

Beth and David Shaw

$100,001 to $250,000

Carol and Robert Wolf

$200 to $100,000

Dr. Anita Blanchard and Martin Nesbitt

Jeanne and John Kevin Poorman through JKP Family Foundation

Ellen Benson*

Family of Joe “Butch” Martin

Jennifer & Jeremy Haile

Donald E. Butterfield

Nicholas Alexos*

Alison & John Shulman*

Lawrence Z. & Jaqueline A. Stern Foundation*