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Charity roundup – Endowment losses – Selling 9/11

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Here’s the latest nonprofit news:

* A new study by the Commonfund Institute says college and university endowments on average fell 3 percent in the fiscal year ended June 30, hurt by venture-capital investments and the slumping stock market, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 15. Endowments at the biggest schools lost 1.5 percent on average, compared with average gains of 24 percent in 2000. An exception was Yale University, which has more than half its $10.1 billion endowment in alternative assets and posted a 9.2 percent return.

* To help win approval of President Bush’s plan to boost government support for faith-based charities, The New York Times reported Jan. 16, a group of civil and religious has proposed that government let taxpayers not itemizing their tax returns deduct their charitable donations. It also said religious groups should create separate nonprofits to deliver social services, and the IRS should speed their creation, the Times said. And it suggested that foundations and corporations drop bars to funding religious programs.

* Hundreds of U.S. firms have hitched the hawking of their wares to the Sept. 11 attacks, a successful marketing ploy that has triggered a surge in charitable donations, The Washington Post reported Jan. 14.

Having raised more than $425 million and distributed more than $160 million to victims and families hurt by the Sept. 11 attacks, the Sept. 11th Fund sponsors – the United Way of New York City and the New York Community Trust – have asked donors to send donations to other relief groups, DMNews reported Jan. 17.

* A new survey finds that, to help decide where to buy, invest and work, the public wants to know how companies act on social and environmental issues, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 16. Good corporate citizenship can pay off, but can be overlooked if not promoted, and can hurt the company if perceived as pandering or if the company fails to do what it says it does, says the survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for the Reputation Institute.

* A federal judge rejected the plan by Microsoft to donate $500 million in cash, plus software and equipment, to thousands of inner-city schools to settle class-action suits charging it had overcharged for its Windows operating system, The New York Times reported Jan. 12. The judge said the deal could give the giant software-maker an unfair market edge in the schools, the Times said.

* Donating real estate can help a charity, produce tax benefits and guarantee annual income for a lifetime, The Washington Post reported Jan. 12.

* Fannie Mae has contributed $300 million in stock to the Fannie Mae Foundation to develop affordable housing, BuilderOnline reported Jan. 14.

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