Nonprofit news roundup for March 12, 2009

Philadelphia Orchestra plays on despite cutbacks

The prestigious Philadelphia Orchestra continues to make music despite salary cutbacks, layoffs and the lack of a permanent board chair, chief executive or music director, The New York Times reported March 11 (see orchestra story). The orchestra also slashed an upcoming European tour and delayed a program to stream concerts on the Internet. Though the orchestra has persevered, industry experts worry that its high quality and untarnished reputation may crack under the financial strain.

Cornell jettisons hedge-fund holdings

Cornell University is cutting its hedge-fund holdings by as much as 25 percent to combat a steep endowment drop, says James Walsh, the university’s chief investment officer, Bloomberg reported March 11 (see hedge story). The Ivy-League school, which saw its endowment tumble 27 percent in the second half of 2008, could not justify the hefty fees for hedge funds, which usually equal two percent of assets. The university, which has about 15 percent of its assets in hedge funds, plans to boost its investments in distressed assets and corporate bonds.

Billionaire philanthropist dies at 91

Leonore Annenberg, billionaire philanthropist and U.S. chief of protocol under former President Ronald Reagan, died at 91 of natural causes, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported March 12 (see billionaire story). Annenberg, the widow of Walter H. Annenberg, former U.S. ambassador to Britain and publisher of the newspaper, had led the Annenberg Foundation since her husband’s death in October 2002. She received the Philadelphia Award, the city’s highest civic honor, in June 2007.

Tufts fights projected losses with layoffs, tuition hikes

Tufts University, bracing for a 30 percent projected drop in its endowment, is firing staff, hiking tuition and freezing raises in salaries over $50,000, Bloomberg reported March 11 (see cutback story). The Medford, Mass.-based school plans to lay off 15 to 20 employees and raise undergraduate tuition by 3.5 percent.

In Brief:

* President Barack Obama’s plan to cut charitable deductions for wealthy Americans will slash funding to charities when they need it most, says Lowman Henry, chairman and CEO of the Lincoln Institute, in an opinion column in The Evening Bulletin in Philadelphia March 11.

* East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., is struggling to preserve scholarships and staff positions after its endowment dropped to around $65 million from $95 million since July 2008, The Daily Reflector reported March 11.

* New Jersey nonprofits, under greater pressure from surging demand and slumping revenue, are cutting staff, slashing programs and merging with other organizations, says a report by the Center for Non-Profits, says Linda Czipo, the center’s executive director, in a column in The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., March 11.

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