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Nonprofit news roundup for Nov. 24, 2008

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Broad Foundation offers help to ailing museum

After the battered Los Angeles-based Museum of Contemporary Art announced it was considering mergers with other organizations, the Broad Art Foundation offered to invest $30 million to save the museum if others agree to pitch in, said billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad in an opinion column in The Los Angeles Times Nov. 21 (see museum column). Broad, who was the founding chairman of the museum in 1979, asked philanthropists to open their hearts and wallets for the organization, which he called “the most important contemporary art museum in the world.”

Gates Foundation to curb projected grant growth

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is planning to cut back projected growth to its grantmaking in 2009 after its endowment lost $800 million between June and October, The Seattle Times reported Nov. 22 (see grant story). The foundation, which plans to make about $2.8 billion in grants this year, is scaling back its original $3.2 billion grantmaking estimate for 2009.

IRS to audit Mozilla Foundation

The Internal Revenue Service is auditing the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the organization that develops the Firefox Web browser and Thunderbird e-mail software, Web CPA reported Nov. 24 (see audit story). Though Mozilla has tax-exempt status as a public -benefit corporation, it earned $75 million from its advertising partnership with Google that it classified as royalties rather than revenues. If the IRS re-classifies the Mozilla Foundation as a private foundation rather than a public charity, it would be subject to a 2 percent excise tax on its net investment income, which amounts to about $100,000.

Newman leaves assets to wife, foundation

Paul Newman, philanthropist and Academy Award-winning actor who died Sept. 26 following a long battle with cancer, left his assets to his wife, Joanne Woodward, and the Newman’s Own Foundation, the Associated Press reported Nov. 21. Newman and the foundation funded by his food company, Newman’s Own, have given more than $250 million to charity.

Baltimore arts groups feel economic pinch

Baltimore arts organizations are being pelted from all sides as endowments, state grants and donations dry up, The Baltimore Sun reported Nov. 23 (see economy story). The endowments of the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra have dropped by millions of dollars since the stock-market meltdown, forcing the organizations to cancel scheduled events.

In Brief:

* Unable to keep up their current level of grantmaking, many corporations are compensating by donating their employees’ time and skills, The Washington Post reported Nov. 23.

* The Social Investing Rating Tool, a system being developed by an alliance of philanthropists and businessmen, will assess nonprofits’ stewardship and impact to help donors make more informed decisions, The Washington Post reported Nov. 24.

* Forced to cut back contributions in the face of economic uncertainty, donors should create a strategy that maximizes the impact of their charitable dollars, says Leslie R. Crutchfield in an opinion column in The Washington Post Nov. 22.

* Donors who are finding themselves in the grip of the economic crisis should remember those who are being squeezed even tighter, says Michelle Singletary in an opinion column in The Washington Post Nov. 23.

* Health-related news services are cropping up throughout the U.S. to fill a void left by the declining mainstream media, The New York Times reported Nov. 23.

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