Nonprofit news roundup for Sept. 15, 2008

New boss aims to revamp Smithsonian

G. Wayne Clough, chief executive of the Smithsonian since July 1, has instituted reforms to bring credibility back to the organization after Lawrence M. Small, his predecessor, raised eyebrows with questionable spending, The New York Times reported Sept. 14 (see Smithsonian story). Clough, former president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, told legislators that museum directors now must have their travel approved and new executives must undergo background checks.

Harvard endowment announces 8.6 percent return

Harvard University’s endowment announced that it earned an 8.6 percent return on its investments for the fiscal year ended June 30, compared to 23 percent last year, The New York Times reported Sept. 12 (see endowment story). The return brought the endowment’s value to $36.9 billion from $34.9 billion.

Charities see drop in donations

Nearly a third of charities reported a drop in individual donations, say the Charities Aid Foundation and the Association of Chief Executives of the Voluntary Sector, The Press Association reported Sept. 14. Almost nine in 10 nonprofits said they expect their incomes to fall further as a result of the economic downturn.

Foundation pledges $20 million to cancer institute

The Engelstad Family Foundation lent a hand to the struggling Nevada Cancer Institute in the form of a $20 million pledge, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Sept. 14 (see cancer story). The donation will go toward the construction of a 183,000-square-foot research building near the institute’s Summerlin facility in Las Vegas. The foundation donated $15 million to the institute two years ago to further lung cancer research.

In brief:

* An e-mail claiming to be a summit invitation from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a scam designed to elicit “registration” fees, The Los Angeles Times reported Sept. 13.

* Nonprofit hospitals in Michigan paid a total of $2.6 billion to offer free and discounted care to patients and to make up for losses from government programs in 2007, the Associated Press reported Sept. 15.

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