Fact Check

Some Concerned Over Trump Veteran Donations

While money raised during an event for veterans was donated to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, it was eventually given to various veterans' charities and not used for his presidential campaign.

Published Jan. 19, 2016

Updated Nov. 14, 2019
The donations raised during a benefit event for veterans went to Donald J. Trump's personal foundation instead of veteran charities.
What's True

Around half of the money raised during a Donald Trump-hosted event for veterans was donated to the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

What's False

However, those funds were ultimately given to veterans' organizations and were not used for Trump's presidential campaign.

While most of the leading Republican presidential candidates attended a Fox News-hosted debate in Iowa on 28 January 2016, Donald Trump boycotted the event (as a protest over Fox's allowing Megyn Kelly, whom Trump felt had asked him "unfair questions in a previous debate, to serve as a moderator) and instead hosted his own event as a fund-raiser for veterans.

Trump instructed supporters to visit the website of the Donald J Trump Foundation for Vets in order to make donations to the cause. Some potential donors were skeptical, however, as the receiving entity was listed as the Donald J Trump Foundation and not a veterans' charity:

Screenshot 2016-01-29 at 12.35.40 PM

The Donald J Trump Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. An email confirmation with a summary of your donation will be sent to the email address provided above.

Around half of the $5.6 million raised by Trump during his veterans' charity event on 28 January 2016 was initially paid to the Donald J Trump Foundation, before then being distributed to veterans groups. The rest of the funds raised were donated directly to veterans charities, without first passing through the foundation. It's inaccurate to say that the money ended up in the candidate's personal account or was used to fund his presidential campaign.

The handling of the donations became part of the focus of a lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General’s office against the Trump Foundation, the president, and Ivanka and Eric Trump in June 2018. The lawsuit alleged that the joint operation of the fundraiser by the Trump foundation and the Trump's presidential campaign, among other examples, constituted “improper political activity.” When the case was finally settled in 2019, the New York Supreme Court noted that "the Funds did ultimately reach their intended destinations, i.e., charitable organizations supporting veterans."  

In response to queries over the matter, on 31 May 2016 Donald Trump held a press conference to announce that he eventually gave "close to six million dollars" to veterans’ groups and that the press "should be ashamed of themselves" for asking questions about the money he donated.

"I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job," Trump said in a press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan. He issued a list of the veterans groups who received the money, saying that "As of this moment, [the total amount donated] is $5.6 million. All of the money has been spent."

Trump said he didn't release the names of the veterans organizations sooner because he wanted to respect their privacy and asserted that the money for a number of these groups had already been delivered some time earlier.

Trump's list of checks already issued read as follows:

22Kill: $200,000.

Achilles International : $200,000

American Hero Adventures: $100,000

Americas for equal living: $100,000

America’s vet dogs: the veteran canine corp Inc: $75,000

AmVets: $75,000

Armed Services YMCA: $75,000

Bob Woodruff Family Foundation Inc: $75,000

Central Iowa Shelter and Services: $100,000

Connected Warriors Inc: $75,000

Disabled American Veterans Charity: $115,000

Fisher House Foundation: $115,000

Folds of Honor Foundation: $200,000

Foundation for American Veterans: $75,000

Freedom Alliance : $75,000

Green Beret Foundation: $350,000

Higher Heroes USA: $75,000

Homes for our Troops: $100,000

Honoring America’s Warriors: $100,000

Hope for the Warriors: $65,000

Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund: $175,000

Canines for Warriors: $50,000

Liberty House: $100,00

Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation: $1.1m (including $1m from Trump himself, he says)

Navy Seal Foundation: $465,000

Navy Marine Corps Relief Society: $75,000

New England Wounded Vets Inc: $75,000

Operation Home Front: $65,000

Project for Patriots: $100,000 (this “check is check is ready to go” but Trump is still vetting the group, he says, awaiting an “IRS determination letter”. “They have to give us that final document”.

Puppy Jake Foundation: $100,000

Racing for Heroes, Inc: $200,000

Support Siouxland Soldiers: $100,000

Task Force Dagger Foundation: $50,000

The Mission Continues: $75,000

National Military Families Inc: $75,000

Veterans Airlift Command: $100,000

Veterans Count: $25,000

Veterans in Command Inc: $150,000

Vietnam Veterans Workshop Inc: $75,000

Warriors for Freedom Foundation: $50,000

“And I believe we’re going to have some more coming in.”


MacGuill, Dan.   "Was Donald Trump Fined for ‘Stealing’ Money Intended for Veterans?"    14 November 2019.


UPDATE [Nov. 14, 2019] Updated to report 2019 settlement of the lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General alleging improper political activity.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.