Nonprofit news roundup for Jan. 27, 2009

Arts nonprofits seek help from Obama administration

Arts organizations are speaking up to ensure they are not left out of President Barack Obama’s economic-recovery efforts, The New York Times reported Jan. 26 (see arts story). Some prominent U.S. artists are pushing for the creation of a cabinet-level position devoted to the arts, and arts groups are appealing to federal departments like Transportation and Labor for funding. The American Recovery and Reinvestment bill, which is expected to go to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote, includes a $50 million supplement for the National Endowment for the Arts to distribute directly to arts nonprofits.

Bloomberg ranks as top living donor in 2008

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York and founder of the Bloomberg financial-information firm, was the top individual living donor in the U.S. last year, says The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The New York Times reported Jan. 26 (see donor story). The $5.2 billion bequest of Leona Helmsley, the billionaire hotel magnate who passed away in 2007, made her the top overall donor in 2008. Bloomberg donated $235 million to more than 1,200 arts, education and health-care organizations last year.

Gates Foundation forges ahead despite losses

Shrugging off losses of nearly $8 billion, or 20 percent, in assets, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plans to boost grantmaking in 2009, says a letter by Bill Gates posted on the foundation’s website, Kristi Heim says in a blog in The Seattle Times Jan. 26 (see letter story). The foundation will increase its giving to $3.8 billion from $3.3 billion last year, Gates says. In his letter, Gates emphasized the growing importance of helping the less fortunate, and urged businesses to think creatively to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Stanford loss throws wrench in construction plans

Stanford University is suspending $1.3 billion worth of construction projects to offset unprecedented endowment losses, The San Jose Mercury News reported Jan. 23 (see construction story). The university’s endowment, valued at $17.2 billion last year, since plunged about 30 percent. Though the university vowed to protect faculty positions and expand financial aid, it has cut nearly half of its capital projects, including construction of a new mechanical-engineering facility and undergraduate dining hall.

Ohio foundations scale back grantmaking

About six in 10 charitable foundations in Ohio plan to rein in their grantmaking in 2009, says a survey by the Ohio Grantmakers Forum, The Akron Beacon Journal reported Jan. 23. Foundation assets have dropped between 15 percent and 40 percent over the past year. Ohio foundations handed out a total of $1.13 billion in 2006, with the bulk of the money going toward education.

Texas hospitals to provide data on charity care

In a move to boost transparency, the IRS and the Texas state government are demanding detailed data on the uncompensated services nonprofit hospitals provide, and information on the way they spend state and federal reimbursement funds, the Associated Press reported Jan. 26. A working group created by state lawmakers has devised a uniform method of calculating charity-care costs in an effort to provide a clearer picture of how the system is working.

In Brief:

* Despite a $52.6 million endowment loss in the last fiscal year, the University of Oklahoma topped $1 billion in assets at the end of June 2008 with the help of $198 million in donations, the Associated Press reported Jan. 26.

* President Barack Obama, whose Inaugural Address urged a renewed national “spirit of service,” now must provide opportunities to put it to use, says an editorial in The New York Times Jan. 25.

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