Nonprofit news roundup for Dec. 23, 2008

Madoff scandal does more than financial damage

Yeshiva University, Tufts University and Harvard Medical School are three of many nonprofits burned by investment manager Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion scam, says Alison Go in a blog in U.S. News and World Report (see scam blog). Yeshiva University, which lost $110 million in the Madoff debacle, is grappling with the betrayal by its Jewish benefactor, as well as concerns that the alleged scam will reignite anti-Semitic prejudices, The New York Times reported Dec. 22. Robert Blumenthal, Connecticut’s attorney general, is requesting the names of Connecticut-based nonprofits that fell victim to the scam, to determine whether nonprofit board members acted recklessly in investing their money with Madoff, Forbes reported Dec. 22. Even nonprofits that avoided involvement with Madoff are seeing fallout from the scandal, as donors become wary of giving their money to charity, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 23.

Los Angeles art museum accepts bailout

The board of the Los Angeles-based Museum of Contemporary Art voted to accept an offer of $30 million in aid from Eli Broad, billionaire philanthropist and founding board chairman of the museum, The Los Angeles Times reported Dec. 23 (see museum story). The museum also appointed Charles E. Young, former chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, as the museum’s first chief executive following the resignation of director Jeremy Strick. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation will match contributions to the museum’s endowment up to $15 million and provide $3 million a year for exhibition support for five years.

N.C. auditors question foundation payment

North Carolina state auditors are baffled over nearly $295,000 that Winston-Salem State University administrators paid the school’s foundation, the Associated Press reported Dec. 23. The payment, uncovered in the university’s annual state audit, represents 4 percent of the revenues from two student-housing complexes leased to the university by the foundation. The university made the payment to reimburse the foundation for past services, says Michelle Cook, executive director of the foundation.

Blagojevich fiasco helps raise money for charity

Chicago residents paid to lob shoes at a cardboard cutout of disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to raise money for a local charity, the Associated Press reported Dec. 22. The event alluded to a news conference in Iraq earlier this month, in which a reporter hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush as a sign of disrespect. Chicago residents took the fundraising opportunity to vent their frustrations at Blagojevich, who faces criminal charges for trying to auction off President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat.

In Brief:

* The Washington, D.C.-based United Way of the National Capital Area is slashing its membership fees by more than 50 percent to help nonprofits ride out the economic downturn, The Washington Post reported Dec. 22. The cuts, which will take place in February, will save area nonprofits a total of about $1.5 million, the United Way affiliate says.

* As a result of the global credit crisis, Canadian nonprofits are reeling from an estimated 80 percent drop in donated stocks since last year, says philanthropic adviser Malcolm Burrows, Macleans reported Dec. 22.

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