The $7.5 Million in Donations Helping Trump's 'Self-Funded' Campaign

The real estate mogul isn't paying for his campaign alone.

ByABC News
March 4, 2016, 4:53 PM

— -- Even though Donald Trump has told donors "I don't want your money" and repeatedly said that his campaign is "self-funded," that hasn't stopped the real estate mogul's campaign from taking in millions in cash from individual donors.

According to the most recent contribution records from the Federal Election Commission (through Jan. 31, 2016), just under a third of Trump's campaign funds -- about $7.5 million -- has come from individual donors.

Of the money that he has contributed to the campaign ($17.78 million), about one percent ($250,318) of that is a direct contribution to the campaign and the rest is in the form of loans. By making his contributions this way, it allows for Trump to be paid back later using other campaign contributions they receive, according to FEC rules.

How Much Are We Talking About

Trump's presidential campaign has received just over $25.5 million between April 2 of last year and the end of January 2016, which is the most recent FEC filing period.

Of that total, more than two-thirds of those funds come from the loans the real estate mogul has made to his campaign. Those loans, which add up to $17,534,058, have been made by Trump in 10 payments, the two biggest of which came in December, accounting for 42.6 percent of all of the loans, records show.

According to the most recent filings, Trump's campaign has spent about $23.7 million, about $6 million more than Trump's loans and candidate contributions.

Candidates are allowed to use individual contributions to pay back loans, as long as the contributions are made before Election Day. After Election Day, candidates can raise money to pay off outstanding debts, but only $250,000 of that new, post-Election Day money can be used to pay the candidate's loans.

What Trump Says About His Donors

Trump has repeatedly described his campaign as self-funded, pointing this out as recently as yesterday in Maine.

"I’m putting up all my money... I don't want your money. I just want one thing: your vote," he said at the rally in Portland.

When he does acknowledge his donors, like he did at a speech in Las Vegas back in October, he ignores the contributions of several thousand dollars he has received, focusing instead on smaller alleged examples.

"We had a woman [donate] $7.59, what do you do? How can you send the money back? First of all it’s too expensive to send it back. It costs you more money to send it back," he said at the time.

"You know, it’s cute, it’s beautiful. They feel invested in your campaign."

People Paying Up

While it may not apply to the smaller donations, there are plenty of donations that more than cover the cost of postage.

As of Jan. 31, there had been 5,550 itemized individual contributions, some of which were made by repeat donors.

Of those, eight donors have already contributed $5,400, which represents the largest legal amount that one individual can donate to a candidate in the presidential race. Individuals can donate up to $2,700 per election, and the presidential race is broken up into a primary election and a general election.

One of those donors is Jim Shore, a figurine artist in South Carolina. Shore, 65, told ABC News that the fact that Trump says he is self-funding his campaign is certainly a draw to voters because people "get a little bit weary of politicians that are unduly influenced by groups that have an agenda."

When asked to guess how much Trump had spent on his campaign, Shore said "probably a few million" but when presented with the FEC numbers, Shore said that the real estate magnate has probably saved because he has "successfully" gotten media attention without having to spend on traditional ad campaigns.

"I think he's probably prepared to kick in as much as necessary to get the job done, but the very fact that he's been able to lead the way from the very beginning and not had to kick in any more than that - I think that's pretty admirable," Shore said.

Trump’s campaign homepage has two 'donate' buttons, but Shore said he believes that still works with the self-funding policy, as the buttons are "creating a pathway for those who want to contribute."

PHOTO:Donald Trump signs one of his campaign hats during a event at the University of Northern Iowa, Jan. 12, 2016, in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Donald Trump signs one of his campaign hats during a event at the University of Northern Iowa, Jan. 12, 2016, in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

More Than Just a Trucker Hat

The majority of the contributions Trump has received are classified by the FEC as unitemized individual contributions.

Judith Ingram, the press officer for the FEC, said that such contributions are less than $200. Even though there are upwards of 250 individual itemized contribution that fall into that category, the campaign is given the leeway to decide which contributions they disclose so long as they are $200 or less, including multiple contributions by one donor.

Trump's campaign has received more than $5.6 million in unitemized contributions, while the itemized contributions have totaled $1.87 million.

One explanation for the significantly larger unitemized individual contributions could be that any campaign products -- like the trucker hats emblazoned with the "Make America Great Again" slogan that Trump's site is selling for $30 -- could be put in that category.

Trump's campaign did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment about the contributions, the hat sales, and the decision to accept contributions even though Trump has repeatedly said he is self-funding.

Where Trump Stacks Up

In looking at Trump's competitors, none of whom are claiming to self-fund, individual itemized contributions make up the majority of their campaign funds.

More than three quarters of Hillary Clinton's campaign funds are made up of individual itemized contributions (about $100 million). When combined with the unitemized individual contributions, that percentage goes even higher, making it 98.85 percent of all contributions. For fellow Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders, 98.4 percent of his total contributions come from unitemized and itemized contributions, making up $94.7 million of his $96.3 million total contributions.

Similarly, the total of the itemized and unitemized individual contributions to Sen. Marco Rubio's campaign totals 96.7 percent of his campaign, Gov. John Kasich's percentage comes in at 97.4 percent and Sen. Ted Cruz's is even higher with 99.4 percent.

Sanders, Rubio, Kasich and Cruz have not made any loans or contributions to their campaigns, while Clinton has not taken out any loans but has made $468,036 in contributions.