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Nonprofit news roundup for June 30, 2009

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Foundations’ investment model ‘is not broken,’ expert says

While some question whether foundations’ investments in private equity were smart, the research arm of asset-management firm Commonfund says the sector’s average private-equity return of negative 7.8 percent last year outperformed the overall private-equity return in the U.S. of negative 24.2 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported June 25 (see foundation investing story).

L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art raises $20 million

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles raised $20 million in new funds last year, money that could signal a turnaround for the group, which had seen its endowment shrink to $6 million from $20 million since 2000, The New York Times reported June 26 (see museum story). The foundation will funnel $4.25 million of the money raised to its endowment, along with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Broad Foundation.

Microsoft veterans aim to broaden, build philanthropy

Two new Seattle nonprofits have cropped up, both started by former Microsoft employees, with the goal of cultivating a “new generation of philanthropists” who would use cell phones and social media to bring together donors and worthy causes, The Seattle Times reported June 29 (see Microsoft veterans story). The Jolkona Foundation and SeeYourImpact both aim to involve younger, less affluent people in philanthropy.

Donations to Muslim charities drying up, leaders say

Laws that give the Treasury Department greater leeway in investigating charities suspected of financing terrorism are causing donations to  Muslim nonprofits to dry up, say Muslim leaders, The Orange County Register reported June 28 (see Muslim charities story). The ACLU says the Treasury Department holds “virtually unchecked power” in labeling charities as terrorist organizations.

Recession leads nonprofits in Lincoln, Neb., to cut staff

As the weight of the recession sinks in, Lincoln, Neb.-area nonprofits are being forced to cut staff at the same time demand for their services is spiking, The Lincoln Journal Star reported June 28 (see Lincoln nonprofits story). The local literacy council cut its budget by $65,000 this year, and a shelter for homeless families has laid off staff.

Minnesota nonprofits endure ‘worst financial year’

Rising demand and dwindling donations are causing Minnesota-area nonprofits to merge, partner up, cut their budgets or even close their doors, The Star Tribune reported June 29 (see Minnesota nonprofits story). This year has been the “worst financial year, probably ever,” for the state’s nonprofit sector, says the head of Volunteers of America-Minnesota.

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