Nonprofit news roundup for April 24, 2009

Newspaper foundations halt grantmaking

As economic pressure builds, the Boston Globe Foundation and the New York Times Company Foundation both have suspended their grantmaking, The Boston Globe reported April 23. The Globe Foundation says it will honor all existing commitments, including multi-year obligations. The Times Foundation also has stopped matching employees’ charitable contributions, The New York Times reported April 23. Together, the two foundations awarded a total of about $7 million in grants last year.

Gates invests $57 million in foreign libraries

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will award $57 million in grants to bolster the Internet resources of libraries in Poland Romania and Vietnam, The Associated Press reported April 23. The funds will be used to train librarians to better use Internet resources, and to ease access to online information and resources for library patrons and their families.

Stanford cuts 49 positions

In response to budget pressures created by its shrinking endowment, Stanford University has eliminated 49 positions, Silicon Valley’s KLIV reported April 23 . Ten people are gone from the university’s alumni department, the development office eliminated 19 positions and 20 positions were cut from the division of Land, Buildings and Real Estate.

Facebook Causes falling short of expectations

Facebook Causes, an application popular with nonprofits wanting to raise money online, generally has not been effective its first two years, trailing direct mail, fundraising events and other traditional methods of soliciting contributions, the Washington Post reported April 22. Only a tiny fraction of the 179,000 nonprofits that have turned to Causes have raised even $1,000, according to data from the Causes developers’ site. And while Causes lets Facebook users list themselves as supporters of a cause on their profile pages, fewer than 1 percent of those who have joined a cause actually have given money using that application. But some say Causes is as much a way to build relationships and spread interest in a cause as it is a fundraising tool, Beth Kanter wrote in her blog April 23 (see blog entry).

Britain names charity ambassador Dame Stephanie Shirley, who in 1996 formed what is one of the 50 biggest grantmaking foundations in Britain, has been named by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to be the government’s ambassador for giving and philanthropy, Third Sector reported April 22. In the new position, Shirley will advise the government on how to encourage and facilitate giving.

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