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Nonprofit news roundup for Feb. 17, 2009

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Charities worry pay limits could hobble donations

Charities in the New York area, already coping with flagging donations, are worried that proposed measures to cap for-profit executive pay will hurt contributions further, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 17 (see compensation story). The economic-stimulus package approved by both houses of Congress includes a provision that bars any firms receiving federal bailout money from paying their top executives bonuses that exceed one-third of their total yearly compensation. Wealthy Wall Street executives were responsible for some of the largest donations in the more than $300 billion given to charity in 2007.

Failing economy bolsters nonprofit job recruiting

Nonprofit and government careers are getting a big boost from the economic downturn as available jobs in the private sector dwindle, BusinessWeek reported Feb. 16 (see job story). Despite a drop in overall job-recruiting activity in 75 percent of U.S. business schools, 12 percent of schools reported an increase in recruiting activity for the nonprofit sector, while 35 percent reported an increase in recruiting activity for government jobs, says the Career Services Council.

University of Hawaii holds fast despite investment losses

The University of Hawaii Foundation endowment fell to $143.6 million from $181.4 million, a nearly 21 percent drop, in the last half of 2008, The Honolulu Star Bulletin reported Feb. 16. Because of the system’s low reliance on the endowment, as well as a consistent payout strategy, the loss will have little impact on university operations, says Howard Todo, chief financial officer for the university system.

Massachusetts foundations dig deep to help communities

Some Massachusetts-based foundations are dipping into their endowments to make larger grants as community needs skyrocket, The Boston Globe reported Feb. 16 (see foundation story). The Eos Foundation plans to spend an additional $15 million over the next five years to fight poverty in Boston, despite losing 30 percent of its endowment. Shrugging off a 20 percent drop in its endowment, the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts aims to boost its grantmaking to $250,000 from $100,000 in both 2009 and 2010.

Tony Blair honored for leadership, diplomatic efforts

Tony Blair, former British prime minister, has received an award of 697,000 British pounds, nearly $1 million, for his efforts to broker peace in areas of conflict around the world, The Guardian reported Feb. 16 (see award story). The monetary award, presented by the Dan David Foundation at Tel Aviv University, will go toward the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and a fund for graduate students. Al Gore, former U.S. vice president and environmental activist, won the prize last year.

New Form 990 could complicate tax season for nonprofits

The new Form 990, the most drastic change in IRS reporting requirements in 30 years, threatens to make tax season more time-consuming for larger U.S. nonprofits, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Feb. 17. The form, which demands more information in an effort to boost transparency, could take 35 percent to 40 percent more time to complete, says Mary Anne Hakim, a Washington accountant specializing in nonprofits. Though only nonprofits with at least $1 million in revenue or $2.5 million in assets have to use the form this year, all nonprofits will have to fill it out by 2011.

In Brief:

* President Barack Obama dropped the ball by neglecting to revoke a 2002 executive order that allows faith-based organizations to hire and fire based on religious beliefs, says an editorial in The New York Times Feb. 15.

* Christian leaders, regardless of political affiliation, are teaming to help the poor as unemployment levels skyrocket, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 16. The coalition’s agenda includes raising the minimum wage and extending the child-care tax credit to stay-at-home mothers.

* Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, vowed that his charitable foundation would persevere despite losing nearly all of its assets in Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion investment scam, USA Today reported Feb. 17.

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