Much of the negative press surrounding the Clinton Foundation seems to be centered on the fact that Bill Clinton has long mixed business and politics to get people to contribute to the organization.
Both he and Hillary Clinton have used their established connections—and they have a lot of them—to do a great deal of good in the world.
It was through “glad-handing” that the Clintons managed to generate donations to help fight HIV around the world, for one thing. Outside of the current toxic political climate in the United States, this would not be an issue.
The Clinton Foundation has ben doing it right in this regard, for sure: They have a resource in Bill and Hillary Clinton and they use that resource to raise money and do good. That’s what every single nonprofit should be doing. You can discuss ethics, or the potential danger of getting too much money from certain donors, but that’s not what we’re discussing.
Nonprofits aren’t indie bands, and they don’t have the luxury of worrying about “selling out.” If an organization is serious about doing good rather than making itself or the person after which the organization is named look good, then it makes sense to use whatever tools are at its disposal.
Making connections is an absolute requirement in the nonprofit world, just as it is in any other part of life. Humans are social animals, and if an organization wants people to donate money to a cause, possibly to help individuals they’ll never meet, then it needs to appeal to them as people.
Making and using connections—“glad-handing” if you will—is one way to do that, and a very effective way if human history is any indicator. If the Clinton Foundation had not worked those connections, it wouldn’t have done the good it has.