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Nonprofit news roundup for Oct. 27, 2008

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Metropolitan Opera named top U.S. arts fundraiser

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City came in first among U.S. arts organizations in fundraising in 2007, bringing in $128.1 million from private sources, Bloomberg reported Oct. 27 (see Met story). The opera company’s host organization, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, came in second place with $123.9 million, says a survey of 400 nonprofits by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Donations to all nonprofits in the survey grew by 4.5 percent to $72.5 billion from the previous year.

Donors plan to give during holidays despite slump

Even in the midst of a market meltdown, more than half of Americans plan to donate online to charitable causes before the year is out, says a national survey of online consumers, The Christian Science Monitor reported Oct. 27 (see giving story). The findings are in keeping with historic trends in philanthropy that show that economic slumps have little impact on charitable giving. Total giving dropped an average of only 1 percent during economic recessions since 1967, says a report by the Giving USA Foundation.

No-strings-attached housing sees some success

“Housing First,” the Bush administration’s national campaign against chronic homelessness, offers rent-free shelter to homeless people without demanding months of treatment and counseling in advance, The News & Observer reported Oct. 26. About four in five chronically-homeless Americans who get immediate housing stay off the streets for two years or longer, say program evaluators. The 30 percent decline in U.S. chronic homelessness from 2005 to 2007 is partially attributed to this program.

Colby College endowment drops by 25 percent

Colby College, a liberal-arts college in Waterville, Maine, saw its $630 million endowment plunge by more than 25 percent this year, The Kennebec Journal reported Oct. 26. The recent financial hardship will not affect the school’s policy to provide loan-free financial-aid packages, which help students avoid $14,000 in debt over four years of study, says William Adams, president of the college.

Kansas University sees smaller endowment, more donors

Though the Kansas University Endowment dropped to $1.22 billion from $1.24 billion in the last fiscal year ended June 30, it saw a simultaneous increase in donors, The Lawrence Journal-World & News reported Oct. 24 (see donors story). A record 45,014 people donated money to the endowment during the last fiscal year, up from 43,400 the previous year. Despite investment woes, the endowment increased its funding to the university by 18 percent to $112.1 million during the last fiscal year.

Sorenson Foundation gives university $15 million

The University of Utah received $15 million from the foundation of billionaire James Sorenson, who died of cancer Jan. 20, to begin construction on a new medical research facility, the Associated Press reported Oct. 26. The biotechnology building will be named for Sorenson, who invented several medical devices that are widely used in hospitals today.

In Brief:

* With the financial crisis taking many big corporate donors out of the picture, nonprofits are struggling to make their resources last until the end-of-year holiday giving season, USA Today reported Oct. 27.

* U.S. universities, which fund up to 25 percent of their operations with endowments and other investment income, are reevaluating budgets and hiring practices in response to the market crisis, Crain’s Chicago Business reported Oct. 26.

* Jenny Hourihan Bailin, a former senior executive on Wall Street, tells of her decision to join the nonprofit sector after being laid off from her job in a guest column in The New York Times Oct. 25.

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