Nonprofit news roundup May 5, 2009

Gates Foundation investing in farming in poor countries

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plans to spend $73 million over the next five years to help small farmers in poor countries increase their yields and reduce costs, The Associated Press reported May 4. In outlining the plan, the head of the foundation said agriculture is a strategy for solving poverty that poor countries and the large donor nations that give them aid have ignored.

Nonprofits could figure in U.S. probe of John Edwards’ spending

Federal investigators are looking at records of funds that helped John Edwards’ presidential campaign to see if any were used to keep quiet his affair with Rielle Hunter, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported May 3. A review of Edwards’ campaign money will turn up a group of nonprofits, some not subject to the same rules of transparency as official campaign organizations, the newspaper said.

Cleveland museum making cuts

The Cleveland Museum of Art, faced a tough economy and a 30 percent loss in the value of its endowment since June, is cutting salaries and eliminating other expenses, the Plain Dealer reported May 4 (see museum cuts story). But the museum is not cutting jobs yet and plans to move ahead with a $350 million expansion and renovation.

University endowment shedding real-estate investment trust

Trustees of the University of Alabama System voted to rid its endowment of a publicly-held real estate investment trust that has lost money more quickly than stocks during the recession, the Tuscaloosa News reported May 1 (see university endowment story).

Yale, Gates Foundation among Chrysler lenders

Chrysler said in bankruptcy documents it filed in court that its lenders include Yale University and assets managed for the University of Kentucky and the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation, Bloomberg reported May 1 (see Chrysler lending story).

Nonprofit CFO pleads guilty to theft

Wendy Mansfield, former chief financial officer for Washington, D.C.-based Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, pleaded guilty to stealing almost $180,000 from the organization, The Associated Press reported May 1. From 2004 to 2008, Mansfield put over $180,000 in personal expenses on her work credit card and the Association paid $176,061 of the bills.

Endowment losses force Lafayette College to cut back

In order to trim its budget by 10 percent, or $11 million, Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., will freeze salaries and cut back on planned building projects over the next
four years, The Associated Press reported May 4. The college’s endowment, which provides more than a quarter of the school’s operating expenses, has shed almost 30 percent of its value since June of 2007.

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