Nonprofit news roundup for Sept. 3, 2009

As fires rage, Californians warned against ‘sham charities’

California’s attorney general is warning donors to be on the lookout for “sham charities” aiming to take advantage of contributors’ desire to help victims of the wildfires raging in southern California, The Los Angeles Times reported Sept. 2 (see Los Angeles wildfire story). The attorney general recommends review solicitations carefully, giving only to established charities and avoiding email solicitations.

Massachusetts targets compensation at nonprofit health groups

In an effort to rein in the “escalation” of executive pay at nonprofit health-care companies in Massachusetts, the state’s attorney general announced plans to heighten oversight of compensation practices, The Boston Globe reported Sept. 3 (see nonprofit health groups story). The matter took on greater importance last year after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts paid $16.4 million in retirement benefits to its former its former chairman.

Chicago Marathon launches digital fundraising effort

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon launched its first-ever digital fundraising program, letting runners customize the tread of a digital running shoe with a personal image and tailored web message, with Bank of America giving $1 to the runner’s choice of one of 22 charities, up to a maximum total contribution of $50,000, and an additional $10,000 being awarded to the charity getting the most submissions by race day, the San Francisco Examiner reported Sept. 1 (see Chicago Marathon story).

Stanford lays off hundreds in wake of endowment decline

After weathering a massive decline in the value of its endowment, Stanford University has laid off 420 employees and plans to drop another 60 by the end of the year, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sept. 2 (see Stanford story).

Universities likely to dial back investment risk

In the wake of double-digit drops in the value of their endowments, universities across North America are revisiting the risk profiles and payouts of their investment portfolios, The Calgary Herald reported Sept. 2 (see university endowments story). But universities will have to accept that less risk may mean lower performance.

Colorado universities struggle to fund scholarships, professorships

Endowment-investment losses, coupled with slower donations, could take a toll on Colorado universities’ scholarship programs and endowed professorships, KUSA-TV reported Sept. 2 (see Colorado universities story). With interest income hard to come by, some schools are dipping into their general funds to keep programs running, a tactic they may not be able to sustain for long.

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