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Donors leaving L.A. – City ponders merger impact

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Facing the loss of its remaining two Fortune 500 companies — Arco and Times Mirror – Los Angeles wonders if other foundations will fill the gaps left by longstanding corporate donors, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Mergers with BP Amoco and Tribune Co. will swallow California’s most visible corporate philanthropists. The two corporate foundations

last year poured $18 million into Los Angeles alone.

With a tradition of broad-based civic funding, both foundations have boosted the city by supporting cultural institutions such as the Olympics, Hollywood Bowl, and Disney Concert Hall.  

And while California’s booming private foundations have the resources to replace lost dollars, newer foundations do not place a high a priority on the well-being of the city as on the well-being of its inhabitants, the Times reports.

Two of the state’s biggest foundations — The California Endowment and The Wellness Foundation – are products of the conversions of health-care companies and thus their grantmaking is restricted to healthcare issues.

The trend among new private foundations is to increase their impact by targeting specific subgroups, such as the working poor or elementary school education.

“The new money cares about the arts, but not as profoundly as education and health issues, because they are the bottom line,” Barry Munitz, president of J. Paul Getty Trust, told the Times.

But historically, the well-being of the arts is a good indicator of where a city falls in an international hierarchy, he said.

Top-notch cities draw high real estate value and premium professionals to boost business. 

Both BP Amoco and the Tribune Co. have been adamant that they will continue to funnel corporate funds to California.

Last year, BP Amoco pledged to make $100 million in charitable contributions to California over the next 10 years. 

“The charitable community must mobilize and put pressure on the incoming corporations to honor their commitments, Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, told the Times.

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