Nonprofit news roundup for Feb. 3, 2009

Brandeis draws ire for closing art museum

The decision by Brandeis University to close the Rose Art Museum has sparked debate over whether the university is justified in selling donated artworks, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 3 (see art story). Some donors to the museum, none of whom were consulted before the board reached its decision, say they will not be making donations to Brandeis in the future. Though the university is scrambling to offset a 23 percent endowment loss, it may have harmed itself further by thumbing its nose at the art community and its major donors, says an editorial in The New York Times Feb. 1.

Recession takes bite out of Big Apple’s museum funding

New York City museums are looking for ways to cut corners as public funding, foundation grants and endowments dry up, Crain’s New York Business reported Jan. 31 (see museum story). The American Museum of Natural History, for example, has lost $170 million, or nearly a quarter of its endowment, as well as $3.1 million in city funding. Many museums have been forced to cut exhibits and lay off staff, with even the renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art announcing a hiring freeze.

Austin nonprofits get mixed results from holiday fundraising

The results of Austin nonprofits’ 2008 holiday fundraising campaigns ran the gamut from dazzling to dismal, The Austin American-Statesman reported Feb. 2. Though the Austin Humane Society nearly doubled its total from the previous year, the Capital Area Food Bank received $2.5 million in donations, down from $3 million the year before. Though many struggling nonprofits say holiday shortfalls would have no effect on clients, they expect to cut services if the trend continues into 2009.

Massachusetts puts charity information online

Massachusetts has launched an effort to provide residents with information on public charities in the state, iBerkshires reported Feb. 2 (see website story). The website of state Attorney General Martha Coakley now features a search function that allows users to access the annual filings of more than 22,000 charitable organizations.

Charlotte nonprofits feel economic pinch

Universities and charities in Charlotte, N.C., are struggling as endowments lose value and private donors, many of them bank employees, shy away from big gifts, The Charlotte Observer reported Feb. 1. To offset financial losses, universities are cutting back travel expenses, hiking tuition and limiting hiring to critical positions.

In Brief:

* More than nine in 10 Ohio charitable foundations say their assets have declined, and about six in 10 expect to give less money this year than they did in 2008, says a survey, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Feb. 3.

* Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told the BBC he does not expect an upswing in the global economy for up to four years, UPI reported Feb. 1.

* The Hach Scientific Foundation donated $33 million to the American Chemical Society to support chemistry teaching in U.S. high schools, Chemical & Engineering News reported Jan. 26.

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