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Nonprofit news roundup for Oct. 10, 2008

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Endowment-payout mandate may be in works

The push for a 5-percent endowment payout for universities has reared its head again, with The Harvard Crimson and Yale Daily News reporting that Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont plans to introduce legislation in January to mandate the payout increase, says Louis Lavelle in an opinion column in BusinessWeek Oct. 9. University endowments now spend about 4.5 percent on college operations every year. While a higher payout could mean more financial aid and lower tuition, endowments argue that flexibility in finance management is essential, especially during a financial crisis.

Universities regroup after credit crisis

The financial crisis is giving even the wealthiest universities pause, forcing them to put off big projects and reassess their strategies, the Associated Press reported Oct. 10. Faced with dropping donations and soaring bond-market interest rates, universities are putting off big fundraising campaigns and shifting their focus to financial aid to prevent dropouts.

Website aims to patch up one-time needs

Philanthropic website Modest Needs allows donors to connect with cash-strapped people through a community-bulletin-board format, Inter Press Service reported Oct. 10 (see needs story). Founded by Keith Taylor after friends helped him out of a financial emergency, the initiative is expected to see an influx of applications during the economic slump from people with one-time urgent needs. The website allowed donors to help 1,582 applicants last year, distributing a total of $884,990.

In Brief:

* Having achieved their goals on the corporate front, “philanthrocapitalists” set their sights on bettering the world, says a book excerpt from “Philanthrocapitalism” by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green in The Wall Street Journal Oct. 9.

* Already feeling the chill of lower donations and government funding, charities brace for an even bigger hit during the holidays, Time reported Oct. 10.

* For nonprofits, sometimes keeping a mission alive means shutting down or merging with other organizations, says Craig Smith, arts critic for the Santa Fe New Mexican, in a column by Diane Haithman in The Los Angeles Times Oct. 10.

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