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Nonprofit news roundup for Feb. 6, 2009

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University of Alabama retools endowment strategy

The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa is making changes to its investment strategy after its endowment lost 25.6 percent of its more than $1 billion value last year, The Tuscaloosa News reported Feb. 6 (see investment story). The endowment plans to switch 2 percent of its assets into a fund with high yields and safety measures. Despite the loss, the endowment fared better than three-fifths of similar-sized endowments and has no plans to drop its payout rate.

Top Purdue fundraiser to step down

Murray Blackwelder, the top fundraiser at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., plans to leave June 30 to head a foundation that raises money for the University of Missouri in Kansas City, the Associated Press reported Feb. 5. As senior vice president for advancement, Blackwelder led Perdue’s recent $1.7 billion campaign.

Vanderbilt endowment value drops 16.5 percent

The value of Vanderbilt University’s endowment tumbled about $600 million, or 16.5 percent, during the last six months of 2008, the Associated Press reported Feb. 6. The Nashville university has halted 15 construction projects and cut department budgets by 5 percent.

Bank helps with heat, utility payments

Providence, R.I.-based Citizens Financial Group is launching Energy$ense, an initiative to provide below-market-rate loans to help borrowers with heat and utility costs, The Boston Globe reported Feb. 5. The bank also plans to give more than $500,000 in energy-assistance grants to homeless shelters and nonprofit organizations.

In Brief:

* Food banks in the Northwest are jettisoning peanut products in response to a massive recall following a recent salmonella outbreak traced to a Georgia peanut-processing plant, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Feb. 5.

* Terrance Watanabe, a Nebraska philanthropist and former owner of Omaha-based Oriental Trading Co., faces felony-theft and bad-check charges after allegedly racking up almost $15 million in debts at two Las Vegas casinos, the Associated Press reported Feb. 6.

* Nonprofits reeling from reduced government funding and flagging donations should keep their core missions foremost in mind when cutting costs, says Deborah Fugenschuh, president of the Donors Forum of Wisconsin, The Business Journal of Milwaukee reported Feb. 6.

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