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Nonprofit news roundup for June 5, 2009

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Arts funders work to help struggling grantees

Despite declining endowment income, some U.S. foundations are answering the call from arts and culture organizations for increased funding and more spending flexibility, The New York Times reported June 3 (see arts funding story). Some, including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, are giving more, while others are allowing funds that normally are restricted to be used to cover operating costs.

Obama nominates Leach to chair humanities group

President Obama has nominated Jim Leach, a former Republican Congressman who endorsed Obama and spoke at the Democratic National Convention, to become chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Associated Press reported June 3 (see National Endowment story). Leach, now a professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, served in Congress for 30 years and founded and co-chaired the Congressional Humanities Caucus, The New York Times reported June 3 (see Jim Leach story).

Credit Suisse taps Dartmouth investment chief

David Russ, chief investment officer for Dartmouth College, will become chief investment strategist for the new Investment Strategies and Solutions group of Credit Suisse Group, Switzerland’s largest bank, Bloomberg reported June 2 (see Dartmouth story). He was hired for the post two weeks after the school’s credit rating was lowered due to budget deficits and borrowing.

Microsoft notables weigh in on charity, tax changes

While Microsoft founder Bill Gates was encouraging billionaires to give the “vast majority” of their wealth to charity, the software company’s current CEO was threatening to move company jobs overseas should President Obama’s proposal to end tax breaks on foreign earnings become law, The Los Angeles Times reported June 3 (see Microsoft story). Obama says the move would protect U.S. jobs, but Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says the move would have the opposite effect.

Gates’ 2998 giving rises, despite drop in assets

While the assets of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation dropped to $29.8 billion from $38.8 billion during 2008, the funder increased its grantmaking to $2.8 billion last year from $2.01 billion in 2007, The Portland Business Journal reported June 3 (see Gates giving story). About two-thirds of the foundation’s 2008 grantmaking benefitted global health efforts.

Detroit Symphony gets $1 million from Ford Foundation

The ailing Detroit Symphony received a three-year $1 million grant from the Ford Foundation to help expand the orchestra’s donor base by building marketing and fundraising efforts around new musical director Leonard Slatkin, The Associated Press reported June 3 (see Detroit Symphony story). The symphony has made $1.6 million in cuts this year, including layoffs and pay cuts.

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