Trump said he was shutting the foundation "to avoid even the appearance of any conflict" with his role as president.
"I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways," Trump said in a statement released Saturday evening from his Florida home.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation had been an important issue during the campaign, generating questions about how it raised and distributed money.
However, since Trump unexpectedly won the race, his business holdings have created more potential conflicts of interest and other controversies.
Trump has still not explained to the public how he will disentangle his myriad business interests from his duties as head of the U.S. government.
Already, questions have arisen about his investments in Russia, India, the Middle East and Latin America, and his apparent willingness to discuss deals with foreign officials at the same time he is preparing to take office.
The charitable foundation, meanwhile, is under investigation by the New York attorney general's office, which in October ordered the charity to "cease and desist" from fundraising because it was in violation of state law.
The Washington Post reported this year that some of the funds raised by the charity were used to defend Trump's for-profit businesses against lawsuits.
In tax filings, Trump admitted he violated rules against "self-dealing," using charitable contributions to benefit those controlling the charity.
Trump reported to the IRS that he had given no money to his charity between 2009 and 2014 but that one of the biggest donors was wrestling mogul Linda McMahon, the Post reported. She has since been named by Trump to head the Small Business Administration.
During the campaign, Trump said he had donated huge amounts to veteran groups but never cut a check until reporters inquired about the money.
In his statement Saturday, Trump said his foundation raised "millions" of dollars for worthy causes.
"I am very proud of the money that has been raised for many organizations in need," Trump said.
"But because I will be devoting so much time and energy to the presidency and solving the many problems facing our country and the world, I don't want to allow good work to be associated with a possible conflict of interest."
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