Nonprofit news roundup for March 5, 2009

Changes in tax plan won’t cripple giving, poll says

Despite uproar over President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce charitable tax deductions for upper-income Americans, more than half of wealthy donors say they would maintain their current giving levels even if they received no deductions, says a poll by Bank of America and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, The Wall Street Journal reported March 4 (see deduction story). Only one in 10 upper-income donors say they would halt contributions altogether if deductions were nixed.

College endowments drop 24 percent in six months

U.S. colleges and universities lost, on average, nearly a quarter of the value of their endowments between July and December 2008, says a report by the Commonfund Institute, Reuters reported March 5 (see endowment story). The economic slump dealt the biggest blow to smaller schools with endowments of $10 million or less, which lost an average of 30.2 percent of their endowments’ worth. The losses have sent schools on a mad dash to cut staff, academic programs and construction projects.

Guidelines released for arts groups seeking stimulus money

The National Endowment for the Arts has released guidelines for arts groups seeking their share of the $50 million allotted to the arts in President Barack Obama’s economic-stimulus bill, The New York Times reported March 3 (see arts story). One-time grants must be used to fund positions that have been axed or endangered by the deteriorating economy, the guidelines say. U.S. arts groups have been especially hard-hit financially, with more than four in 10 reporting dwindling resources, Bloomberg reported March 4.

President of Catholic charity resigns after shake-up

Thomas Mulhearn, president of Catholic Charities, stepped down this week in the face of what the St. Louis Archdiocese characterized as an impasse in a dispute over fundraising strategy, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported March 5. The archdiocese claimed that the charity, the largest private provider of social services in Missouri, was drifting too far away from the desires of church leaders. The vice president of the charity, as well as at least two board members, quit when the archdiocese announced changes in fundraising strategy in October 2008.

In Brief:

* The embattled American Red Cross of Central Florida is launching a $2 million fund drive to offset a 44 percent drop in funding over the last several years, News 13 of Central Florida reported March 4.

* The endowment of the West Virginia University Foundation, the school’s fundraising arm, dropped $100 million, or 23.5 percent, during the first half of the current fiscal year, WAJR-AM Radio News reported March 4.

* As the financial crisis wreaks havoc worldwide, 48 philanthropists have stepped forward to address growing needs, Forbes Magazine reported March 4.

* The tremendous gains achieved in the last several decades by investment managers at elite U.S. universities could not have taken place without equally tremendous risk, says Andrew Rosenfield, senior lecturer in law at the University of Chicago and CEO of Guggenheim Investment Advisors, in an opinion column in Forbes Magazine March 5.

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