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Nonprofit news roundup for Dec. 18, 2008

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Foundation loses half its assets in alleged scam

The Boston-based Carl and Ruth Shapiro Foundation intends to continue supporting its beneficiaries, despite losing nearly half its assets in an alleged scam by New York money manager Bernard Madoff, The Boston Globe reported Dec. 18 (see scam story). The foundation, blindsided by a $145 million loss, may not be able to give the same levels of funding to the various education, arts and health-care organizations it supports. Last year alone, it donated about $12.8 million to 146 nonprofits in the Boston area and beyond.

Getty Trust endowment plummets 25 percent

The J. Paul Getty Trust, which operates the Getty art museum in Los Angeles, is instituting budget freezes and salary adjustments following a nearly 25 percent drop in its $6 billion endowment since June 30, the Associated Press reported Dec. 17. The trust, the largest philanthropic arts organization in the country, ranks third-largest among foundations, after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation, the Foundation Center says.

Broad Foundation gives $25 million for stem-cell research

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is donating $25 million to the University of California, San Francisco, to fund a laboratory for stem-cell research, The Los Angeles Times reported Dec. 18 (see stem-cell story). The foundation already has contributed $30 million to the University of Southern California and $20 million to the University of California, Los Angeles, to promote stem-cell research.

Senator wants more from nonprofit hospitals

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa is considering proposing legislation that would hold nonprofit hospitals more accountable for their tax-exempt status, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 18 (see hospital story). The legislation would require nonprofit hospitals to set limits on executive compensation and spend a minimum amount on free care for the poor, Grassley’s staff members say. The Republican senator earlier pushed tax-exempt universities to spend at least 5 percent of their endowments annually.

General Electric shifts focus to basic needs

In response to the economic downturn, the philanthropic arm of General Electric Co. is directing $20 million of its annual $100 million in charitable donations next year toward basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 18 (see focus story). The change represents a 300 percent increase from the $5 million the GE Foundation directed to basic needs in 2008.

In Brief:

* Though pre-holiday predictions are grim for nonprofits, the economic situation may force philanthropists to be more creative and strategic, says Scott Miller in an opinion column in The State Journal Dec. 18.

* British author J.K. Rowling’s charity book, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” has sold more than 2.6 million copies worldwide since its Dec. 4 release, Reuters reported Dec. 17. Proceeds from book sales will go to the Children’s High Level Group, a charity for children in Eastern Europe co-founded by Rowling.

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