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Buffett gift marks shifts in giving

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Here are the week’s top nonprofit stories reported elsewhere:

* Warren Buffett’s gift to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation could begin a new trend in philanthropy, with more benefactors giving away their estates while they are alive, allowing them to reap the tax benefits and keep an eye on their gifts, The Wall Street Journal reported July 5.

* While 20th century philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller created foundations modeled after vertically integrated, industrial organizations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is organized like a software company, emphasizing research and development, reflecting the Gateses effort to create “a different style of foundation,” The New York Times said July 2.

* Unlike the approach taken by Warren Buffett, who is turning over the bulk of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with virtually no strings attached, many philanthropists exchange their gifts for the opportunity to overhaul the business models of recipient organizations, bringing oft- and much-needed business insight and resources to fledgling nonprofits, the Wall Street Journal reported July 3.

* Though she guards her privacy and is sparse with media appearances, friends say Melinda Gates’ involvement in the foundation she and husband, Bill, spearhead is comparable, if not beyond, that of her husband, The New York Times reported July 6.

* Cheryl Scott, who took over as chief operating officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation the same day Warren Buffett announced his $31 billion gift to the foundation, now must take on the monumental task of increasing the foundation’s staff to properly manage the money and allocate grants, the Wall Street Journal reported June 30. Scott, who received 700 resumes for a single administrative position in one day after the announcement, expects to double the size of the 275-person foundation over the next few years.

* Though the $1 billion received by each of the foundations run by Warren Buffett’s children pales in comparison to the $31 million he is giving to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the money propels Susie, Howard and Peter Buffett into the upper echelons of philanthropic foundations, leaving each to determine how to parse out the money to interests such as early-childhood education, safe drinking water and the well-being of Native Americans, The New York Times reported July 2.

* University endowments are having trouble holding on to money managers, who often leave to start their own investment funds, because their salaries are considered low by private fund standards, a trend reinforced by faculty opposition to giving endowment managers higher salaries, The Wall Street Journal reported June 27.

* Charities that conduct biomedical research and test drugs and devices are increasingly becoming tied to the corporations that submit their technologies to be tested, causing medical experts to question the results of studies and the use of treatments, The New York Times reported June 28.

* Wish-granting foundations like Make-A-Wish have modified their target recipients in recent years to include infants, accident victims, senior citizens and children in recovery from illnesses, because the rate of death in children ages one to 14 was cut in half between 1980 and 2003, forcing the foundations to branch out in deciding who gets the benefit of millions of dollars raised every year, Knight Ridder reported June 25.

* New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, rumored to be considering a 2008 presidential run, has nearly completed the purchase of a $45 million Upper East Side building expected to be the headquarters of a philanthropic foundation he plans to establish after his mayoral term is up, The New York Times reported July 2.

* Uproar has erupted within the Presbyterian Church over a record gift of $150 million pledged by Denver businessman Stanley W. Anderson after news emerged of his financial instability, including liens resulting from unpaid income taxes and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to creditors, the Denver Post reported June 22.

* The Wellcome Trust, the London-based foundation funding biomedical research, announced it will follow the lead of U.S. foundations and sell a bond to increase the money it funnels into research, Reuters reported July 3.

* Street Sense, a Washington, D.C., newspaper for and primarily by the homeless, broke a story in its April issue about eviction companies recruiting the homeless to perform evictions, and then paying them less than minimum wage, the Wall Street Journal reported June 30.

— Compiled by Leslie Williams.

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