Nonprofit news roundup for March 20

Obama urged to hold firm on charitable-deduction plan

Despite criticism from Congress, the Obama administration should pursue its proposal to limit itemized deductions for wealthy taxpayers to 28 percent, The New York Times wrote in an editorial March 19 (see editorial on giving). The move could supply $320 billion over the next decade to support health-care reform, and would apply to only 1.2 percent of American taxpayers, thereby limiting any dampening effect the cap might have on charitable donations. And a recent poll by Bank of America says most wealthy donors say their giving wouldn’t change as a result of tax changes.

Law firms pay associates to work in public service

Facing a fall-off in business, some law firms are paying their junior associates reduced salaries to work in public service for as long as a year, The Wall Street Journal reported March 19 (see lawyer story). The move helps young attorneys develop their skills, mitigate their financial difficulties and may help law firms protect their reputations. The timing is good, given that legal-aid groups and other nonprofits are fighting the twin challenges of rising demand and falling revenue.

Laid-off professionals donate time, not money

While the recession and ensuing job losses have caused many out-of-work professionals to turn to volunteering, those former donors are cutting out their charitable giving, a move that is further crippling nonprofits, Time reported March 19 (see nonprofit story). Charities are grateful for the volunteers support, but the loss in funding comes at a time when nonprofits across the U.S. are seeing a spike in demand for their services.

Harvard braces for 15 percent spending cut

The undergraduate faculty at Harvard University is bracing for a $52 million cut next year as the school trims spending from its battered endowment by 15 percent over the next two years, Bloomberg reported March 19 (see Harvard story). The endowment fell 22 percent from July 1 through Oct. 31 to post its worst performance in more than 40 years. The cuts will require “profound changes” in the operations of Harvard’s schools, including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, half of whose income comes from the endowment. Each of the university’s schools will determine what budget cuts need to take place to accommodate the spending reductions, The Boston Globe reported March 20 (see endowment story).

University of Rochester cuts staff, freezes salaries

As it prepares for a 10 percent reduction in the payout from its endowment, the University of Rochester will cut 40 jobs and freeze faculty salaries, New York Newsday reported March 19 (see Rochester story). Thirty-six of the job cuts come from the school’s medical center, an additional 93 vacant positions will go unfilled and salaries have been frozen for all employees making over $40,000 a year. The school’s endowment lost $400 million in the second half of last year.

In Brief:

* The McKnight Foundation will invest $100 million over five years in national and international efforts to create policies and strategies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reported March 19. The foundation is joining the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in a $1 billion commitment to address climate change.

* The London-based Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund received $1.45 million from the Albert R. Broccoli and Dana Broccoli Foundation in honor of Albert Broccoli, who was born 100 years ago, the Hollywood Reporter reported March 19.

* In an effort to cultivate a “culture of giving,” New Zealand’s prime minister is backing legislation that would allow people and businesses to claim tax rebates for goods and time donated to charity, The New Zealand Herald reported March 20. Currently, rebates are provided only for one-third of monetary donations.

* The Foundation for Jewish Camp will receive $4.8 million from the Genesis Philanthropy Group, comprised of philanthropists from the former Soviet Union, to send Russian-speaking Jewish Children to overnight camps in America, JTA reported March 19.

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