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Nonprofit news roundup for Oct. 14, 2008

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Stock-market crisis hits foundations

Private foundations, required to spend at least 5 percent of their endowments, are having a harder time breaking even during the stock-market crisis, The Financial Times reported Oct. 14 (see returns story). Investment returns averaged 9.9 percent in 2007, down from 13.7 percent in 2006, says a study by the Commonfund Institute. To give themselves greater financial flexibility, many foundations are diversifying their investments, joining forces with other foundations, and even limiting their life spans.

Arts organizations weave financial safety net

Arts organizations in the Minneapolis area are weathering the economic slump by being more conservative with their investments, The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Oct. 14 (see arts story). Because they withdraw interest income from their endowments based on long-term performance, they have a comfortable cushion to shield them from budget cuts.

Nonprofit hospitals look to wealthier clients

Ascension Health, the largest nonprofit hospital system in the U.S., closed a hospital in Detroit’s low-income east side and opened a new $224 million facility in a wealthier suburb, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 14 (see hospital story). This is part of a growing national trend in which health-care nonprofits desert areas where need is greater and returns are smaller.

Skyrocketing rent threatens to boot New-York nonprofits

Soaring rent costs in New York City’s West Village threaten to displace the nonprofits that helped give the area its cultural flavor, The New York Times reported Oct. 13 (see rent story). With their 25-year leases expiring at the end of October, several nonprofit tenants face rent increases of as much as 500 percent. Wings Theater, with an annual budget of $100,000, will have to pay $90,000 a year in rent.

Theaters turn economic crisis into marketing tool

In the wake of the stock-market crisis, nonprofit theaters are treating the uncertain political climate as a marketing opportunity, says Lee Margulies in an opinion column in The Los Angeles Times Oct. 14 (see fundraising story). Theaters, while stressing the need for greater donor generosity, are marketing performances as a way for the public to escape financial concerns.

In Brief:

* Many college graduates are turning down the stability and fixed incomes of traditional careers in favor of nonprofit work, The Washington Post reported Oct. 14.

* Corporate social responsibility is not just about good deeds, but also about building sustainability and long-term success, says Michael Meltzer in an opinion column in The Philadelphia Inquirer Oct. 14.

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