Nonprofit news roundup for Feb. 19, 2008

Yale’s top investor gives advice

David F. Swensen, head of the Yale University endowment, says individual investors should stick to a simple, diversified portfolio with emphasis on low-cost instruments and long-term asset allocation, The New York Times reported Feb. 17. Only big investors have the resources for market-beating measures, he says, so smaller investors shouldn’t let market forces distract them.

Business, philanthropy share goals

Both business and philanthropy are about meeting the needs of other people, said Steve Forbes at the annual Goldwater Award for Liberty dinner. His remarks, excerpted in The Arizona Daily Star Feb. 17, also outlined five principles of economic growth.

Peterson foundation to push fiscal security

Peter G. Peterson’s new foundation, worth $100 million and expected to grow to $1 billion in assets, will focus chiefly on economic security, The New York Times reported Feb. 15. Yet the billionaire co-founder of the Blackstone Group worries that having earned his riches in the private equities industry, which benefits from a controversial tax break, will damage his foundation’s credibility in calling for federal fiscal restraint.

Gates gives $695M in stock

Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates has given $695 million in shares of company stock to his charitable foundation, reported Feb. 14. Gates previously held 8.9 percent of Microsoft, worth $23.7 billion.

Nonprofits feel credit crunch

Hospitals, cultural institutions and student loan agencies are among those reeling from the credit crunch, as auction-rate securities find no buyers, The New York Times reported Feb. 15. In the last three days, nearly 1,000 auctions failed, leaving some institutions paying as much as 20 percent on their debt.

Gates Foundation’s control criticized

The World Health Organization’s chief of malaria has complained in a memo that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s growing dominance in his field risks stifling diverse scientific viewpoints and threatens the agency’s policy-making role, The New York Times reported Feb. 16. The foundation has poured $1.2 billion annually into malaria research since 2000.

Dell donates acquisition proceeds

Michael Dell, founder and CEO of computer company Dell, will donate to charity the proceeds of a recent acquisition of business email service MessageOne, Reuters reported Feb. 13. The deal is an effort to compete with similar services at Microsoft and Google.

LA art museum faces donor’s change of heart

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is suffering a crisis in confidence, some say, in the wake of major funder Eli Broad’s decision to lend his personal art collection globally instead of donating it to the museum as expected, The New York Times reported Feb. 10. Broad financed the $56 million addition, christened the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, that many anticipated would transform Los Angeles into a contemporary art capital rivaling New York and London.

Activist heads Atlantic Philanthropies

Gara LaMarche, the new CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies, brings a long career as an activist at organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Open Society Institute to a $4 billion foundation traditionally wary of the public eye, The Financial Times reported Feb. 9. LaMarche seeks to foster greater transparency and openness at the unconventional foundation, which focuses on the ageing, disadvantaged youth, population health, and reconciliation and human rights.

Biggest Aussie funder serves aborigines

Australia’s biggest philanthropy to date will be the $100 million Pilbara Foundation, set up by iron ore magnate Clive Palmer to serve Aboriginal communities in Australia’s Pilbara region, The Age reported Jan 29.

W.H.O. combats tobacco use

The World Health Organization is undertaking the first comprehensive look at tobacco use and controls in 179 countries in an effort to limit the spread of smoking, The Washington Post reported Feb. 8. The effort is being financed with $125 million from a philanthropy run by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose New York anti-smoking program is one of the most comprehensive in the U.S.

Credit cards cut carbon

Credit cards that allow users to earmark a portion of their spending for initiatives to cut greenhouse emissions are now available in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 6 [subscription only]. Available in Europe for several years already, these cards help boost corporate “green” credentials, but with uncertain benefit to the environment, some say.

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