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Nonprofit news roundup for June 22, 2009

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As assets fall, U.S. foundations cut personnel

After losing billions in assets, some of the largest foundations in the U.S. are looking for ways to reduce their staffs, The New York Times reported June 20 (see foundation layoffs story). The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation offered voluntary severance packages to 42 percent of its staff, the Ford Foundation offered similar plans to 140 of its employees in May, and the California Endowment recently cut 44 positions.

‘Creative capitalism’ blends profits, philanthropy

Tycoons-turned-philanthropists like Bill Gates are pushing for a new “creative capitalism” that melds profits and philanthropy by involving people and businesses in tackling vexing social and environmental problems, Daniel F. Muzyka wrote in a column in The Globe and Mail June 22 (see corporate philanthropy story). Doing good can boost the bottom line, given that companies with good reputations in their communities are more likely to have loyal customers and employees.

Young philanthropists look for control and connection

Though they have yet to amass substantial wealth, young professionals increasingly are looking for ways to become philanthropists, Kristi Heim wrote in a blog in The Seattle Times June 19 (see young philanthropists story). While they want to do good, they also want more control of their donations and a greater connection to the causes they support.

Boston may raise fees on private colleges, universities

Given that they are exempt from paying taxes, Boston’s private colleges and universities will have to pay higher fees to the city for the municipal services they use if a city counselor’s proposal is passed, The Boston Globe reported June 20 (see college taxes story). The proposal would require schools to pay $100 for each student without permanent Boston residency, a move that would raise $16 million to $20 million for police, fire and other services.

Mounting financial woes may force charities off ‘cliff’

As charities face increased demand and fewer dollars from funders like United Ways and arts councils, many worry nonprofits could fall off a financial “cliff” when the new funding year starts July 1, The Charlotte Observer reported June 21 (see nonprofit finances story). Nonprofits in Charlotte will have to make do with at least $20 million less in funding from the local United Way affiliate and the Arts & Science Council this year.

Nonprofit mergers rise as financial footing crumbles

As the recession drags on and the state’s budget outlook worsens, many Boston-area charities are beginning to think about merging as a way to stay afloat, The Boston Herald reported June 21 (see nonprofit merger story). Once taboo in the nonprofit sector, mergers are becoming more common, with four consolidations involving nine area groups recently inked, including the marriage of two United Way affiliates.

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