Nonprofit news roundup for March 18, 2009

Arts groups lose funding as priority shifts to basic needs

About one in 10 arts groups in the U.S. are in danger of collapse as private donations, ticket sales and government support dwindle, says nonprofit Americans for the Arts, The Wall Street Journal reported March 18 (see art story). Museums, theaters and dance companies, which derive 40 percent of their funding from private donations, are suffering from the widespread perception that basic needs should get top billing during an economic crisis. Arts organizations are fighting back by emphasizing the educational services they provide, as well as the $166.2 billion they pump into the national economy every year.

Feeding America ramps up efforts to address rising demand

Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., is moving its 2012 goal up two years to meet surging needs, Reuters reported March 17 (see hunger story). The organization plans to distribute 2.95 billion pounds of food and serve 30 million Americans in 2010, two years earlier than originally planned, says Vicki Escarra, the charity’s chief executive. The organization, which changed its name from America’s Second Harvest last fall, distributed 2.17 billion pounds of food in its 2008 fiscal year, up 2.4 percent from the previous year.

New York lawmakers try to block museums from selling art

A bill introduced in the New York State Legislature would make it illegal for museums to sell parts of their collections to cover operating costs, The New York Times reported March 17 (see bill story). The proposed legislation would prevent museums from using artworks as “reservoirs of capital” to be used at their discretion, says Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who drafted the bill. The bill was prompted by the sale of two paintings by the Manhattan-based National Academy Museum and Brandeis University’s plans to close its Rose Art Museum and auction off its collection.

First-time online donors often do not return, study says

The first online donation many donors make to charity is often their last, says a study by Blackbaud Inc., The New York Times reported March 17 (see online story). Of the donors who continued to give to charity after an initial online donation in 2006, nearly four in 10 never gave another online gift, the study says. The study suggests that, while the Internet can be a valuable fundraising tool, especially following disasters, it does not replace direct mail and other forms of fundraising.

In Brief:

* An anonymous donor gave the University of North Carolina at Greensboro received $6 million, its largest gift ever, The Seattle Times reported March 17. The gift will go toward financial aid and two new faculty positions.

* Glorya Kaufman, a Los Angeles philanthropist, is donating $20 million to the Dance at the Music Center program, The Los Angeles Times reported March 17.

* Jewish billionaires in Russia lost more than two-thirds of their wealth last year, auguring a bleak environment for Jewish philanthropy in the country, say data released by Forbes magazine, JTA reported March 16.

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