Archive for the ‘Philanthropy’ Category

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 4-10, 2013)

Monday, March 11th, 2013


HuffPost JobRaising Initiative Raises $1.5 Million For Job-Creating Nonprofits.” By Joe Van Brussel. Huffington Post. March 4, 2013. As the clock ticked toward midnight on Friday night, donations for the JobRaising Challenge finalists continued to pour in. The six-week long contest was nearing its conclusion, but donors showed little sign of letting up. $185,000 was raised in the last hour alone, capping a final week when over half a million dollars was committed to the cause of American job creation. Seventy-four nonprofits whose mission is to create jobs and connect people to work faced off to see who could raise the most money for their cause. In addition to $150,000, $50,000 and $30,000 for the top three fundraisers, the nonprofits were also striving to hit funding benchmarks to win various HuffPost prizes, from personalized tweets on the Huffington Post twitter feed to featured blog posts on the HuffPost front page. The awards created an incentive for donor support while the Huffington Post platform allowed the nonprofits to raise their public profiles and keep the jobs conversation moving forward. The initiative was put on by the Huffington Post in partnership with the Skoll Foundation, Crowdrise and knowledge partner McKinsey & Company.

Boston’s rich expected to donate large sums; In 50 years, area gifts may total $1 trillion.” By Beth Healy. Boston Globe. March 5, 2013. Paul S. Grogan says, “People don’t want to just write a check anymore.” Despite an enormous loss of wealth during the Great Recession, Boston-area families and estates are expected to donate a massive sum to charities over the next half century, perhaps eclipsing $1 trillion, according to a new study commissioned by the Boston Foundation. The report, based on research by Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, found that the recent recession erased about $350 billion in assets that were likely to flow to charities by 2061. Even so, a huge wave of generational wealth will change hands over the next several decades, the study found, ranging from $950 billion to $3.9 trillion, depending on how fast the economy grows. Of that, about 42 percent will probably go to charity, according to the study. That would mean between $419 billion and $1.6 trillion designated for nonprofits over the next five decades. And increasingly, people will pass that money on while they are alive, rather than leaving behind bequests for others to manage after they die.

Donor of the Week: Supporting the Symphony from the First Balcony.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. March 6, 2013. Marjory S. Walters knows a good thing when she hears it. At least when it comes to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Walters, 88 years old, has been a fan of the orchestra for decades, practically since the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra formed more than 50 years ago. She is among the orchestra’s most significant benefactors, recently completing a $1 million pledge. She endowed the symphony’s chair for oboe in memory of her husband, Arthur, who died in 1999.

Donor of the Day: Support for Arts Is Family Mission.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. March 7, 2013. When it comes to the arts, Beth Rudin DeWoody can’t and won’t play favorites. The philanthropist, art collector and executive vice president of Rudin Management Co., one of the city’s largest real-estate companies, is well known for her passionate support of the arts. But when pressed, she refuses to pick a favorite artistic medium. “I can’t. I can’t,” she says. “Because I’m a great theater person. I’m a movie buff. I majored in film studies. And I’m an art person, curator, collector. I love dance. I can’t separate.” Is there anything Ms. DeWoody, who serves on the boards of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, doesn’t like? What about bagpipe music? She considers the question for a moment and says with a laugh, “No, I kind of like the bagpipes.” She enjoys the piano, too, and the music of Stephen Sondheim. With a donation of around $10,000, Ms. DeWoody has commissioned four pieces for the Liaisons Project, an artistic effort led by pianist Anthony de Mare that invites composers to rework a Stephen Sondheim song into a solo piano piece. She says that her grandfather, Samuel Rudin, who started the family’s real-estate business, felt it was vital to support hospitals, social-service organizations and arts organizations alike. He felt that when you’re in “the real-estate business, where you can’t move your business and go to some other town, you want to make where you live the best place to be, a place where people want to come,” she says. Ms. DeWoody’s late father had a simpler explanation for supporting the arts. She says that he would always tell others, “People don’t come to New York City to breathe in the great mountain air. They’re here for the culture.”

NYC Dreams, Funded by Friends.” By Anne Kadet. Wall Street Journal. March 8, 2013. There are only so many big breaks that come along in the life of a puppeteer. For Amy Rush of Atlanta, it was an invitation to work for the Jim Henson Foundation in Queens. The puppet master was raring to go, but for one hitch: She couldn’t afford the move. The solution? She organized an online crowd-funding campaign to solicit donations from family and friends. “I want to be a part of it—New York, New York,” Ms. Rush titled her fundraising page. She quickly raised $1,053—enough to rent a 14-foot U-Haul and take off. Some people are turning to crowd funding to move to New York City. A lot has been written about New Yorkers using crowd funding to finance their dreams, be it launching a bakery or recording an album. But across the nation, ambitious hopefuls are using crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to achieve a more rudimentary goal—get to NYC. Ms. Rush, 36, says she turned to crowd funding for an obvious reason: Moving to New York is crazy expensive. She could have swung any other city, but relocating to NYC, even if you share a fourth-floor Bushwick loft with roommates, as Ms. Rush does, requires thousands of dollars in upfront rent and deposits, never mind the actual moving expenses.

Donor of the Day: Student’s Hoops Dream to Help Education Program.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. March 8, 2013. Clio Markman believes in teamwork on and off the basketball court. The 18-year-old senior who attends New York’s Trevor Day School is hosting on Saturday his second annual “Hot Shot Challenge” to raise money for the Brooklyn Youth Sports Club’s education program, Beyond Basketball. The program provides tutoring, college admissions test preparation and guidance, and organized study halls. Mr. Markman, a point guard and captain of Trevor Day’s varsity basketball team, has for several years played in the off-season with the Brooklyn Badgers, the Brooklyn Youth Sports Club’s competitive travel team. The Badgers team draws primarily from the large high schools in Brooklyn and is highly competitive, participating in tournaments throughout the region. Mr. Markman joined the team in eighth grade—just as the team started—and he was the only private-school student on the team. One of the requirements to play on the Badgers team is to arrive at least an hour early to practice for study time and tutoring sessions. The commitment to academic excellence is central to the team dynamic and, last year, all 30 seniors who had participated in Beyond Basketball enrolled in a college or preparatory school. “I thought it was a cool thing,” says Mr. Markman of the study program. “So many of these basketball organizations are just all about basketball.” So, as a community service project last year, Mr. Markman approached Lyle Friess, who is a basketball coach for Trevor Day and the co-executive director of the Brooklyn Youth Sports Club, about a fundraiser. Last year, donations per basket ranged from 10 cents to $20 and came from doormen and chief executives alike. Eleven players were able to raise some $30,000 in donations for Beyond Basketball. “It was totally, totally wild,” says Mr. Markman.

Portland group’s direct funding project is an Awesome idea.” By Kelly House. Oregonian. March 9, 2013. There’s a new model of charitable giving in Portland, and it’s more direct, collaborative and zany than any of the options you might have checked on your tax return. Awesome Portland, the newly formed local branch of the national Awesome Foundation, aims to promote all things, well, awesome in the Rose City. “The motto is that we’ll fund flame-throwers,” says Awesome Portland founder Leslie Rodgers, 39, a social worker in the Hillsboro School District. “We want to do things that are good, but we also want those things to be fun.” The group is composed of 12 trustees who each donate $100 every other month to fund bimonthly $1,000 grants. But unlike your typical local charity, Awesome Portland’s grants aren’t geared toward specific do-gooder causes like river restoration or food banks. Unless, of course, there’s something particularly nifty about a specific river cleanup or food bank. More often, the money goes to projects that fit Portland’s quirky, outdoorsy, artsy ethos. The Awesome Foundation spent two years spreading to cities across America and internationally before arriving in Portland. It began in Boston in 2009, when then-22-year-old Tim Hwang and a group of friends decided to pool $100 each to fund a cool, small-scale giving endeavor in their community.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (February 25-March 3, 2013)

Monday, March 4th, 2013


Donor of the Day: Family Legacy of Libraries.” By Melanie Garyce West. Wall Street Journal. February 25, 2013. With a $1.5 million gift to New York’s Center for Jewish History, Amy Goldman Fowler is proving the adage “like mother, like daughter.” The donation, made from the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, is to establish a reference services division that complements the Center for Jewish History’s established Lillian Goldman Reading Room. The gift builds upon a long tradition of giving between the Center for Jewish History and Lillian Goldman, who died in 2002. The reading room is considered the “heart” of the Center for Jewish History, says Dr. Goldman Fowler, who serves as the vice chairman of the organization’s board of directors. But in the years since that gift, there has been a need to invest in the center’s infrastructure and technology to better meet the needs of researchers. Dr. Goldman Fowler felt that now was the right time to step in, make an investment and honor her mother’s passion for libraries by establishing the Lillian Goldman Reference Services Division. “Lillian had a deep commitment to Jewish history, to libraries and archives, to the preservation and transmission of knowledge. So do I,” explains Dr. Goldman Fowler, 58 years old, and a resident of Manhattan and Rhinebeck, N.Y. The Center for Jewish History is the home of the library and research collections of the American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The center’s resources include 500,000 volumes and 100 million archival documents that span some 600 years of history. The center opened in 2000.

When losers are winners; Mobile platform Budge provides an unusual way for people to donate to charity.” By Theresa Agovino and Matthew Flamm. Crain’s New York Business. February 24, 2013. Those climbing to the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center to raise money for multiple sclerosis on March 3 may get fundraising help from a New York City startup. Budge, a mobile platform that provides an unusual way for people to donate to charity, is playing a part in the New York City-Southern NY Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s annual fundraiser. The application allows friends to create challenges and bet on games they already play—like Words With Friends—with the loser donating anywhere from $1 to $10 to a designated nonprofit. For this event, friends will be able to wager on who will scale the 1,215 steps the fastest. Introduced about five months ago, this is the first time Budge is part of a major fundraiser. “We are really thrilled,” said Hillan Klein, chief executive of Budge, which he moved to New York last year after starting it in his native Australia. Of course, it’s unknown how much Budge will add to the purse. But the Climb to the Top fundraiser has grown since it was started five years ago. About 1,500 people are expected to ascend the landmarked tower and raise around $1 million. That’s up from the 1,200 people who participated last year and raised $700,000.

MacArthur Foundation awards millions to 13 organizations for ‘creativity and effectiveness’.” By Emi Kolawole. Washington Post. February 28, 2013. Thirteen nonprofit organizations had between $500,000 and $1.5 million more in their coffers Thursday after the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced recipients of its Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The award, first given out in 2006, was established to “recognize exceptional grantees” to help “ensure their long-term sustainability.” The amount awarded was determined by each organization’s operating budget. Groups with a budget ranging between $500,000 and $1 million received a $500,000 award, while those with an operating budgets between $1 million and $2 million received $750,000. Most of the recipients fell into that category. Organizations with a budget between $10 million and $20 million received a $1.5 million award — the amount received by Boston-based Housing Partnership Network. The organization, a collaborative of over 100 nonprofits dedicated to housing and community development, received the most money of the 13 recipients. The Creative and Effective Institutions Award differs from the MacArthur Fellowships — widely referred to as the “genius” grant — in a few ways. The fellows grant established in 1981 is generally given to individuals who have never worked with the foundation before. The Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions, on the other hand, are given to organizations MacArthur has previously supported, said a spokesman Wednesday. And, in case you’re wondering, no, nominations are not accepted.
Related story
Oral History Group and ‘POV’ Producer Receive $1 Million Grants.” New York Times. February 28, 2013.

Donor of the Day: A Goalie’s Goals, On and Off the Ice.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. February 27, 2013. New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will play guitar, have a pizza party and be an auctioneer if it means raising money for a good cause and the opportunity to hang out with local kids. On Friday night, Mr. Lundqvist and his teammates will host a casino night to benefit the Garden of Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit that works with the New York-based Madison Square Garden Co. The annual event is a chance for fans to mix with players, bid on signed jerseys and gamble play money. “Some guys will be standing by the blackjack tables, some talk to fans and take pictures,” he says. “It’s a fun event.” The Garden of Dreams Foundation primarily works with about 20 charities serving homeless, sick and underprivileged children. The organization hosts one-of-a-kind special events for kids and regularly draws on the roster of athletes that play for the Rangers and the New York Knicks, among other sports teams, performers and entertainers. Last year there were 500 such events. Mr. Lundqvist has been the spokesman for the foundation since 2009. Last season, he raised $100,000 for the charity through various auctions, events and his “Crown Collection” clothing line.

Donor of the Day: For Numbers Guy, a Life of Serving the Arts.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. March 1, 2013. When Melville “Mickey” Straus is asked how many years he has served as chairman of the board of trustees of Guild Hall, a cultural center in East Hampton, N.Y., he always answers, “I don’t know.” “Six, seven, eight years. Ten years,” he says. It’s been a labor of love and keeping count. It turns out he has been the chairman for 18 years, an almost unheard of tour of duty when it comes to volunteer board service. On March 4, Mr. Straus, 73 years old and founder of Straus Asset Management, will retire as chairman and be celebrated at Guild Hall’s 28th Academy of the Arts Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony. Looking back, Mr. Straus says that there isn’t much he would do differently. The financial meltdown and the recession added years of fundraising to the $15 million capital campaign to restore Guild Hall, but the renovation is done. Now, the performance hall and museum hosts more than 200 events annually, everything from a Billy Joel concert to art shows for children. He is most proud of making the center year-round and a facility for the community. On his watch, the organization has built a $2 million endowment. Mr. Straus is now raising an additional $1.5 million for the capital campaign and has issued a challenge grant under which he will match every dollar paid by December 2014, up to $500,000. He has donated some $1 million to the organization since joining the board in 1992. Mr. Straus’s interest in philanthropy and love for the arts—visual and performing—is a counterpoint to his professional career. “I spent all day looking at numbers and managing money,” he says. With a knack for numbers, he was recruited by friends to help organizations with their books. From there, he started serving on boards.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (February 18-24, 2013)

Monday, February 25th, 2013


Financial Know-How for Nonprofits Online.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. February 18, 2013. The Wallace Foundation is giving some financial know-how to nonprofits. The New York-based foundation will launch the website on Tuesday. The website covers all facets of financial management, from budgeting to oversight to working with a board on financial accountability. The resources are designed to help a charity become a better provider of services and achieve long-term sustainability. The website is nearly a decade in the making and began when the Wallace Foundation made a grant to help 26 after-school programs in Chicago. In making those grants, the foundation realized that many of the recipient charities didn’t understand the economics and finances of their own organizations. In particular, many charities received money from state and other governmental providers and often would do the contracted work for less than it cost them to deliver the services. “It became a theme that the lack of understanding of the financial realities of their own organizations was one of the things impeding them from being sustainable, successful, mission-fulfilling nonprofits,” said Will Miller, president of the Wallace Foundation. So the foundation, in partnership with Fiscal Management Associates, a consulting firm, funded a $10 million program in 2009 to provide financial management training to those 26 Chicago nonprofits. The training focused on helping the charities make informed decisions and the curriculum included topics like understanding true costs, budgets, planning and evaluating administrative expenses.

Broad Strokes for Family Fund.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. February 20, 2013, David Keiser wanted a mechanism to support his favorite causes and he wanted to give that same opportunity to his family. Step one toward this goal was to create an infrastructure. Mr. Keiser, a retired pharmaceutical executive and former president and chief operating officer at Alexion Pharmaceuticals in Cheshire, Conn., launched his private foundation through the management company, Foundation Source. Step two was setting a mission statement broad enough so that Mr. Keiser’s wife and three children would be able to fund the projects they found important. The family’s foundation supports the development of sustainable, healthy, self-sufficient and productive communities in impoverished or disadvantaged settings. “Obviously, that’s pretty broad,” admits Mr. Keiser, 61 years old, and a resident of Madison, Conn. “We’ve done everything from supporting clean water initiatives in Northern Uganda to homeless issues in the New Haven area.” There is a learning curve to grant-making and Mr. Keiser says there have been some hits and misses.

Tech Leaders Create $3 Million Award.” By Geoffrey A. Fowler. Wall Street Journal. February 21, 2013. Three Silicon Valley leaders are the latest to join a movement among business titans to offer science prizes. Russian tech investor Yuri Milner joined with Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin to create a $3 million annual prize for health-science research. Russian tech investor Yuri Milner said he has joined with the founders of the Breakthrough Prize, designed to help advance research and celebrate scientists, launched a foundation Wednesday in San Francisco, handing out awards to 11 scientists, including Rockefeller University’s Cornelia I. Bargmann for her study of the genetics of neural circuits and Eric S. Lander of the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT for discovering general principles for identifying human disease genes. “There is a significant deficit in our social system, globally, that scientists are underappreciated as people who are making significant contributions to our everyday survival,” said Mr. Milner, an early Facebook investor. The Breakthrough Prize, which comes with a cash grant of $3 million per award, is one of the most lucrative annual science prizes. Winners of the Nobel Prize are paid eight million Swedish kronor, or $1.27 million. Prizes are a booming industry, with dozens of new ones launched by companies, billionaires and foundations over the last 15 years, but their impact on research is a topic of debate, with philanthropists and scholars disagreeing about whether they are a good way to produce better and more research.
Related story:
Zuckerberg, Brin and other valley notables create foundation to reward health research.” San Jose Mercury-News. February 20, 2013.
Breakthrough Prize Awards Research To Cure Disease.” All Things Considered/ National Public Radio. February 20, 2013.

In nonprofit game, athletes post losing records; Some true benefactors, but Globe finds others give little of what’s raised.” By Callum Borchers. Boston Globe. February 24, 2013. Josh Beckett rolled the first ball with 5-year-old Phoebe Davis at the sixth annual Beckett Bowl at Jillian’s Lucky Strikes Lanes in Boston. The bowl benefits Children’s Hospital. But just 37 cents of every dollar raised by his charitable foundation went toward its mission. However low Josh Beckett’s public esteem sank toward the end of his six-plus seasons in Boston, two things often redeemed the pitcher in the eyes of Red Sox fans: his spectacular playoff performance during the team’s 2007 championship season and the generosity of his Josh Beckett Foundation. The nonprofit’s annual Beckett Bowl, a popular celebrity bowling tournament, typically generated about $100,000 for Boston Children’s Hospital. Even in a season of chicken and beer and a historic late-year collapse, who could complain about that? But an examination of the group’s financial records — part of a Globe review of more than 150 Internal Revenue Service filings by 50 nonprofits operated by professional athletes — reveals that just 37 cents of every dollar raised by the Josh Beckett Foundation went toward its mission to “improve the health and well-being of children.” That’s far less than the 65 to 75 cents that nonprofit specialists say is an acceptable minimum. In fact, many nonprofits that help burnish the reputations of pro athletes fall well short of those standards, the Globe review found. Among the 50 nonprofits examined, nearly half spent less than 65 percent of revenues on charitable programs and donations.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (February 11-17, 2013)

Monday, February 18th, 2013


New York: Center of Giving.” By V.L. Hendrickson. Wall Street Journal. February 10, 2013. From subway musicians to penthouse executives, New York City is full of people looking to make a buck. Then, as soon as the big money starts rolling in, many of those New start giving back. Whether it’s setting up a multimillion-dollar nonprofit, brokering green space in the Bronx or directing the giving of one of the world’s most famous family organizations, New Yorkers give their time and resources to support causes they care about. And almost every facet of city life benefits from people’s generosity: Cultural centers, hospitals, religious organizations and educational programs all need the support of city residents.
New York is a financial and cultural capital, but it is also a center of giving. Since The Wall Street Journal’s Donor of the Day column made its debut in 2010, it has reported on about $1.5 billion in donations to local institutions.

Zuckerberg, Brin among top U.S. donors to charity.” By Brandon Bailey. San Jose Mercury-News. February 11, 2013. Who are the Bay Area’s biggest charitable givers? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife scored the No. 2 spot on a list of the biggest charitable givers in the United States last year, thanks to their record $499 million donation to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, according to a report Monday that points to a growing interest among the super-rich in giving away money before they grow old. For the first time in more than a decade, the five biggest donors to U.S. charities in 2012 also include two other couples under the age of 40 — Google (GOOG) co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki, both 39; and Texas financiers John and Laura Arnold, both in their late 30s — although octogenarian investor Warren Buffett ranked first on the list. “There’s a real change in how people think about philanthropy. It used to be something people would do later in life, but now they’re saying, ‘I want to start doing good right away,’ ” said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a newspaper and website that has ranked the nation’s 50 biggest donors to charity every year since 2000.

“A Helping Hand For the Homeless.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. February 13, 2013. Once you become a mom, you want to help other mothers, says Yfat Reiss Gendell. “It’s automatic.” So Ms. Gendell, a mother of three and the co-founder of Foundry Literary + Media and her husband, Bradley H. Gendell, founder of hedge fund Acclivity Capital Management, have made a gift of $50,000 from their family’s foundation in support of a program that helps homeless mothers learn essential life skills. The gift seeded WIN University, a program of the New York-based WIN, the charity also known as Women in Need. The multistage life-skills curriculum covers the essential elements that mothers living in New York City would need to know to find a home, enter the workforce and provide for a child. Topics include good child care, parenting, managing a budget, résumé writing and time management, among others. The first step of the program is safe, clean and private housing. These are the types of skills that some women learn over a lifetime, says Ms. Gendell, but many of the WIN clients are young women who have to learn and perfect skills practically overnight. Finding health care and learning to be an advocate for oneself aren’t always automatic, she says, so WIN University is structured to teach these skills to mothers. The focus of WIN, a charity founded in 1983 and one of New York’s largest providers of homeless services, has been to help homeless women become self-sufficient. The charity has long provided basic services, including housing and a life-skills program. The gift from the Gendells formalizes and expands the life-skills program, with the hope that a revamped program will attract more donors and that other charities will duplicate the WIN University model.

Koch-funded charity passes money to free-market think tanks in states.” By Paul Abowd. NBC News. February 14, 2013. In 2009, a network of online media outlets began popping up in state capitals across the nation, each covering the news from a clearly conservative point of view. What wasn’t so clear was how they were funded. “The source is 100 percent anonymous,” said Michael Moroney, a spokesman for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the think tank that created the outlets. In fact, 95 percent of Franklin’s revenue in 2011 came from a charity called Donors Trust, according to Internal Revenue Service records. Conservative foundations and individuals use Donors Trust to pass money to a vast network of think tanks and media outlets that push free-market ideology in the states — $86 million in 2011 alone. The arrangement obscures the identity of the donors wishing to keep their charitable giving private, especially “gifts funding sensitive or controversial issues,” according to the group’s website. The $6.3 million donation to the Franklin Center was the second-largest gift made in 2011 by the group, a tax-exempt “public charity” that takes tax-deductible donations from donors “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,” according to its website. Donors Trust includes 193 contributors, the majority of whom are individuals. “A lot of donors are flying totally under the radar,” says president and CEO Whitney Ball. Since its founding in 1999, Donors Trust and its affiliated organization, Donors Capital Fund, have distributed nearly $400 million, becoming major vehicles for tax-exempt giving from wealthy conservatives such as billionaire industrialist Charles Koch. Koch is among an exclusive pool of donors who have used Donors Trust as a “pass-through,” says Marcus Owens, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, now in private legal practice. “It obscures the source of the money. It becomes a grant from Donors Trust, not a grant from the Koch brothers.”

Investment Manager Remembers His Cattle-Call Roots.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. February 15, 2013. Jeffrey Bolton attributes his success as an investor to the long days he put in as an actor. To give credit where it is due, Mr. Bolton, a managing director of Neuberger Berman Group LLC, an investment management firm based in New York, recently gave gifts totaling $100,000 to the Actors Fund, a national human services charity that supports people working in the entertainment industry. A member of the board of trustees, Mr. Bolton, 73 years old, leads the effort to raise half of the $27 million operating budget for the Actors Fund. The nonprofit, founded in 1882, provides a range of services including a nursing home, housing, medical care, training for other careers and a program for people with substance-abuse addictions. “It’s just a wonderful organization,” says Mr. Bolton. His support of the organization is a way of “saying thank you for what my experience in the entertainment world has given me.”

Obama’s Top Choice for OMB Led Walmart Foundation’s Targeted Giving.” By Josh Eidelson and Lee Fang. Nation. February 15, 2013. Recent reports suggest that President Obama is about to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the president of the Walmart Foundation, as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Her nomination would be a coup for Walmart and its foundation, which under Burwell’s watch has wielded its massive budget to expand the retail giant’s influence at all levels of government and to pave the way for store expansions. The most recent tax disclosure from the Walmart Foundation, obtained by The Nation, shows that between February 2011 and January 2012, the company gave over $175.68 million in grants to charities, municipalities, churches and various community groups across the country, from the Environmental Defense Fund to Friends of NRA to Puppies Behind Bars. Our review of the foundation’s giving reveals that it has donated considerable cash to groups that have gone on the record to support Walmart during its most contentious political disputes, including the ongoing effort to open stores in New York City. The foundation also donates directly to municipalities, funds groups tied to powerful elected officials and instructs grantees to publicize Walmart’s generosity. Leslie Dach, who oversees the foundation as Walmart’s most senior executive devoted to political affairs, touted the benefits of the company’s philanthropy during a presentation to investors in October 2010. According to a transcript, Dach described “our reputation” as “a lever” in pursuing the company’s goals, which he said include “new markets,” among them “urban America.” A former Democratic Party operative, Dach also extolled the company’s improved polling numbers among self-identified “liberals” and “moderates.” Activists allege that Walmart’s charitable outreach is part of a bid to co-opt potential critics and isolate workers demanding changes to Walmart’s labor practices. “They are very clear about the fact that they’re trying to use their political giving as a lever to pry open these markets,” said Russ Davis, the executive director of Massachusetts Jobs With Justice and a leader of the coalition Massachusetts Stands Up to Walmart.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (February 4-10, 2013)

Monday, February 11th, 2013


Helluva Town: The heart of Wall Street; When Wall Street bankers put their might behind a cause, the results can impress.” Crain’s New York Business. February 3, 2013. Wall Streeters get a lot of scorn for their lavish pay and free-spending ways, but when bankers and brokers throw themselves behind a good cause, the results can be impressive.

Museums Grapple With the Strings Attached to Gifts.” By Patricia Cohen. New York Times. February 4, 2013. For museums and other institutions confronted with the sometimes onerous restrictions that donors place on major gifts, forever can be a very long time. In Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum still keeps most of its galleries illuminated at the equivalent of candlelight because that’s how Mrs. Gardner wanted it when she died in 1924. In Tennessee, Fisk University, facing possible closing, needed court permission to sell a stake in an art collection that the artist Georgia O’Keeffe had donated with the proviso that it never be sold. And now the Brooklyn Museum is asking a judge to bypass the wishes of Col. Michael Friedsam, who ordered before he died in 1931 that his collection be kept together. Conservators there discovered that a quarter of his 926 works were not of museum quality, were misattributed or, in a few cases, were fakes. So now the museum is trying to unload those unwanted gifts as if they were a Christmas fruitcake. Handling what is known in the philanthropic world as donor intent is vexing for many institutions. How do you adhere to a donor’s wishes when they seem to interfere with the best interests of the institution?

Philanthropist Richard A. Herman leaves fortune to D.C. charity, symphony, opera.” By Annie Gowen. Washington Post. February 5, 2013. Richard A. Herman lived in the Watergate for more than 40 years and was a longtime patron of the arts, but the shy railroad heir was virtually unknown in Washington social circles for much of his long life. Until this week. Family Matters of Greater Washington is set to hold a splashy news conference Wednesday at the National Press Club to announce that Herman, who died in November at 100, left the organization 60?percent of his vast estate — $28?million, which the group says is one of the largest gifts ever to a local social service organization. And the Kennedy Center said Tuesday that Herman left $15?million to the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera — the largest bequest in the institution’s history. As news of Herman’s gifts spread through the city’s society and philanthropic communities, many expressed surprise at his generosity and the fact that so few people had heard of him. He had given money to arts institutions such as the Corcoran Gallery and the Phillips Collection but had rarely appeared at glitzy balls or social events.

Foundation Grants $10.5M for Relief.” By Pia Catton. Wall Street Journal. February 7, 2013. Rocking out for Sandy relief at the 12-12-12 concert at Madison Square Garden is still making a difference. The Robin Hood Foundation on Thursday announced a new round of grants, totaling $10.5 million, to organizations providing assistance to victims of the storm. The $10.5 million, which will be divided among 50 groups in the tri-state area, brings the total amount of granted funds to more than $45 million. The majority of the new grants, $8.2 million, will go to organizations providing housing-related services.

Bill Ackman donates record $1M to Innocence Project; Recipient will use the money from hedge funder’s Pershing Square Foundation to pay for efforts to change local police practices and policies that can lead to unjust convictions.” By Theresa Agovino. Crain’s New York Business. February 8, 2013. The Innocence Project received a $1 million donation—its largest ever—from the Pershing Square Foundation. The money will help the Innocence Project expand its core mission of exonerating wrongly convicted people through DNA evidence by funding efforts to change some of the police practices that can lead to unjust verdicts. “This is major,” said Maddy deLone, the Innocence Project’s executive director. “We are going to be able to scale up in a way that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.” Ms. deLone said the organization knew the money was coming so it already has hired about seven new people for the effort. The Pershing Square Foundation, which made the grant in December, has been a previous funder; it was founded by the New York hedge fund honcho William Ackman and his wife, Karen. Mistaken eyewitness testimony is a major factor in 75% of the wrongly convicted cases, Ms. deLone noted, while false confessions are a contributing cause in 25% of such cases. She said there are ways to reduce such mistakes and the Innocence Project has been trying to get police departments and state legislatures to alter procedures to avoid them. The foundation grant can’t be used for political lobbying, however, so the new hires at the Innocence Project will work with police departments. It will allow the foundation to start working on this effort in three new states bringing the total to 11.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (January 28-February 3, 2013)

Monday, February 4th, 2013


Uncertainty boosts donations at the end of 2012; Donors worry that deductions will be capped in 2013.” By Beth Healy. Boston Globe. January 30, 2013. “It was really extraordinary. It wasn’t just a little bump. It was a river of money flowing in here for the last few months of the year,” said Paul S. Grogan, Boston Foundation president. The threat of losing a tax break, it seems, can make some people feel especially generous. Charitable giving soared in the final months of 2012, the heads of major Boston fund-raising organizations said, as donors raced to make gifts before Congress has a chance to limit deductions on such contributions this year. Fidelity Investments said gifts by clients to charitable accounts jumped 24 percent to $3.6 billion last year. And despite an economy that remained sluggish, the Boston Foundation saw donations nearly triple in the last six months of the year, to $93 million, putting the nonprofit on pace for a record. “It was really extraordinary. It wasn’t just a little bump,’’ said Paul S. Grogan, president of the Boston Foundation, a community nonprofit that funds numerous causes. “It was a river of money flowing in here for the last few months of the year.” The drumbeat of raising taxes and cutting deficits that dominated headlines and politics from the presidential election through the end of 2012 appears to have rescued many nonprofits from what might have been a down year. Longer term, however, charity leaders are fearful that capping the tax deduction could harm the sector 24%. President Obama has proposed capping the charitable gift deduction at 28 percent, instead of 35 percent, for families earning more than $250,000. That would mean a tax break of $2,800 on a $10,000 gift. And while no such cap was imposed during the fiscal cliff negotiations, the measure could be resurrected in the coming months.

Donor of the Day: Families Unite to Help Adults With Autism.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. January 31, 2013. There are certain dreams every parent has for his or her child: good health, a great job and happiness at home. But for the parents of children with autism, that future can be “uncertain,” says Michael Lillard, chief investment officer of Prudential Fixed Income, and the father of two teenage boys who are on the autism spectrum. “As a parent, you’re trying to help them reach the highest potential that they can reach. That’s your goal.” To that end, Mr. Lillard and his wife, Amy, who reside in Princeton, N.J., along with Mel Karmazin, philanthropist and the former chief executive of Sirius XM Radio, and his daughter, Dina Karmazin Elkins, have come together to focus on the unique challenges of adults with autism. The families have made a combined gift of $1.5 million to Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, to fund a chair position in adult autism at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. The gift will be announced Friday. Mr. Lillard, 48 years old, says that the gift was born from the need to address the limited services and opportunities for the rapidly growing population of children with autism. The endowed professorship will cover research, practice and the training of professionals who work with adults with autism. Among those challenges, explains Mr. Lillard, is the workplace. Adults with autism may need job-coaching assistance or various types of behavior management programs to become productive workers, he says. “All parents want their kids to be able to grow up and to have a productive work environment, to have a job. That’s certainly a dream of ours.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (January 21-27, 2013)

Monday, January 28th, 2013


Saying Goodbye To Bedford Street’s Tireless Collector.” By Jon Kalish. Weekend Edition Sunday/National Public Radio. January 27, 2013. Larry Selman devoted more than half his life collecting money for multiple charities, on the streets of New York, from total strangers. He did this for nearly 40 years, despite the fact he was developmentally disabled. Selman became the subject of filmmaker Alice Elliott’s Oscar-nominated documentary, The Collector of Bedford Street. He died Jan. 20 at the age of 70. Manhattan-based reporter Jon Kalish has this remembrance.

Donor of the Day: Ensuring Help Is in Harlem.” By V.L. Hendrickson. Wall Street Journal. January 22, 2013. Susan Patricof has known every executive director of the Northside Center for Child Development, an East Harlem institution that since 1946 has been serving children with emotional and mental health issues and learning disabilities. Her $500,000 gift is just the most recent contribution in 40-plus years of involvement with the organization. The gift is earmarked to help Northside find a location for and build an expanded home within 10 blocks of its current headquarters, at 110th Street and Madison Avenue. Ms. Patricof also donated $1 million in 2006 to establish the Susan Patricof Head Start Center, which Northside operates. When Ms. Patricof was first introduced to Northside, she had small children. “I thought, if something happens to them, I can go. I can take my child to get help. How would I feel if I couldn’t do that?” she said. When Ms. Patricof was introduced to the center by a friend, the founders of Northside, Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark, were still at the helm. The Clarks were noted psychologists, having conducted studies with children that helped inform the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision declaring segregation in schools unconstitutional. The couple worked to start Northside to offer psychological resources to children in the Harlem community, and Northside now offers special-education and early-childhood and mental-health services to thousands of children. Ms. Patricof has been involved on many levels, from sitting on the board—of which she is still president—to rallying her friends and family to contribute to the organization (she raises about $200,000 a year from them and every member of her family has volunteered at Northside).


Monday, January 14th, 2013


Asian-Americans Gain Influence in Philanthropy.” By Kirk Semple. New York Times. January 8, 2013. About 800 people gathered in November in a ballroom in Midtown Manhattan for one of the year’s more elegant galas. They dined on beef tenderloin with truffle butter, bid on ski and golf vacations in a charity auction, and gave more than $1 million to a nonprofit group based in New York. But this was not an old-money event. The donors were largely Korean immigrants and their children. Members of a new class of affluent Asian-Americans, many of whom have benefited from booms in finance and technology, are making their mark on philanthropy in the United States. They are donating large sums to groups focused on their own diasporas or their homelands, like the organization that held the fund-raiser, the Korean American Community Foundation. And they are giving to prestigious universities, museums, concert halls and hospitals — like Yale University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The institutions, in turn, are increasingly courting Asian-Americans, who are taking high-profile slots on their governing boards.

Philanthropist Abandons Plan for Velodrome in Brooklyn Park.” By David Goodman. New York Times. January 10, 2013. many New Yorkers, an improbable but well-financed plan to bring a bicycle racing track to Brooklyn Bridge Park has collapsed. Joshua P. Rechnitz, the reclusive philanthropist behind the project, said on Wednesday that he and his team had withdrawn their proposal for the park and would seek another location in or around the city for the indoor sports complex. For cyclists, it is a velodrome dream deferred. For some Brooklyn residents, who balked at the use of an outsize park parcel for a niche sport, it is good riddance. But in the end, supporters said, the neighborhood was just too expensive. The decision to abandon the Brooklyn park, reached at a meeting on Monday, came after planners were unable to produce a design that could fit within the bounds of Mr. Rechnitz’s $50 million pledge for its construction and maintenance, despite months of efforts. “You can’t build a facility of this nature, at this site, at this budget,” said Greg J. Brooks, the executive director of N.Y.C. Fieldhouse, the nonprofit group behind the project. “We’re very excited and eager to find a new home for this recreation center and velodrome. The funding remains intact.” The money came from Mr. Rechnitz, 47, in what is among the largest individual gifts in the history of New York City’s parks. A central requirement of the gift had been the inclusion of the bicycle racing track in the complex. “The New York metropolitan area deserves a world-class cycling and recreation center,” Mr. Rechnitz said in a statement on Wednesday. “I greatly regret that this cannot happen in Brooklyn Bridge Park, but I am confident that we will find a new home for the field house in the very near future.”

Detroit Receives $150 Million Gift.” By Matthew Dolan. Detroit Free Press/Associated Press. January 10, 2013. One of the nation’s largest foundations will spend $150 million over the next five years to implement a new land-use plan in an attempt to revitalize this ailing industrial city. The announcement comes as Michigan’s governor is weighing whether to appoint an emergency manager for Detroit because it is running out of cash. A decision could come this month. The Kresge Foundation, the nation’s 17th-largest grant-making foundation by assets, according to the Foundation Center, invested more than $100 million in Detroit over the past decade to construct a riverfront promenade, build greenways and help fund a new 3.4-mile downtown trolley line that is expected to receive federal support. The new philanthropic investment—about $120 million in new funding beyond previously announced programs—is a sign that the foundation based in Troy, Mich., just north of Detroit, and its leader, Rip Rapson, are doubling down on the future of the city despite its chronic fiscal woes. Mr. Rapson said he had confidence other foundations and government programs would follow Kresge’s lead with more funding. “The value will be multiplied if we invest together and strategically,” he said in an interview. Urban planners say many plans similar to the new Detroit blueprint have had disappointing outcomes, relegated to bookshelves as cities struggled find the resources and political will to implement a long-term vision. But Prof. Robin Boyle, chairman of the department of urban studies and planning at Wayne State University here, said the new Detroit framework is encouraging. “It has the opportunity to set a new direction and a new tone that the city has to be smaller, tighter and more dense.” He cited Philadelphia as an aging industrial city that has made strides in finding new uses for its vacant and underused property.

Scientific research increasingly fueled by prize money; Prize sponsors, like those in centuries past, say that offering financial incentives gets new people thinking about old problems. But some worry the trend could distort scientific priorities.” By Eryn Brown. Los Angeles Times. January 10, 2013. Back when he was in medical school in the 1970s, Gary Michelson was nauseated by the portion of his training known as dog lab — a class where surgeons-in-training removed dogs’ organs one at a time, over 13 weeks, with no post-operative pain relief, until their animal “patients” could no longer survive. The lab bothered Michelson so much, he openly defied the dean’s orders to do the operations. “I said, I don’t understand that I need to mutilate a dog to learn how to be a competent surgeon for human beings,” he said. These days, the Los Angeles spinal surgeon and inventor would still like to save animals’ lives, but through a new cause: birth control for dogs and cats. Michelson has the means: He received a $1.35-billion settlement in 2005 related to his spinal surgery inventions. He wants to use some of that to put an end to millions of euthanasias by getting scientists to invent an inexpensive, single-dose method for sterilizing dogs and cats. Biotech companies haven’t been interested in producing the Pill for a pit bull or an IUD for a Siamese, because it wasn’t likely to be very profitable. Top-notch scientists didn’t have much motivation to figure out if it was even possible. Michelson hopes to make it worth their while with the Michelson Prize in Reproductive Biology — a cool $25-million purse for the first researcher to solve the problem. Ever since the splashy success of the Ansari X Prize, which in 2004 awarded $10 million to a team that launched a spacecraft 60 miles above Earth, funders are turning to contests — some with big cash prizes — to get answers to nagging scientific questions.

A Patron With Passion in Los Angeles.” No by-line. New York Times. January 13, 2013. This sprawling city is known internationally for many things — but great dance isn’t one of them. The philanthropist Glorya Kaufman is doing her best to change that. In November the University of Southern California announced that Ms. Kaufman had donated enough money to start a dance school, a prospective Juilliard of the West. Though the exact sum has not been disclosed, it’s big. Robert Cutietta, the dean of the Thornton School of Music at U.S.C. and the man who will now head that university’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, confirmed that the figure was in the multimillion-dollar range. The money will go to a new building — the Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center — and to endowing a bachelor of fine arts program combining conservatory-style dance instruction with business training and a liberal arts education. While this is probably the largest check that Ms. Kaufman has written for dance, it’s far from the first. She’s lavished millions on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Juilliard School, her dance foundation helps finance community charities, and the $20 million she donated to the Music Center in Los Angeles in 2009 helps bring major dance companies, like American Ballet Theater, to the city with the Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance series. The $18 million gift she gave the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1999, which set records back then, resulted in Glorya Kaufman Hall, but also in a dissatisfied Glorya Kaufman. Ms. Kaufman’s husband, Donald Kaufman, founded (with Eli Broad) the hugely successful homebuilding company Kaufman & Broad (now known as KB Home). In 1983 Mr. Kaufman died in a biplane crash; he was the pilot, and his passenger, his son-in-law, also died. Not long afterward Ms. Kaufman turned to charity work. Last month she discussed her dance philanthropy with Brian Seibert at her house in Beverly Hills, an Italian-style villa outfitted in art, including her own paintings. Ms. Kaufman, who prefers not to give her age, grew up during the Depression in Detroit, and she retains the accent and friendliness of a Midwesterner. Her reflexively positive nature might also be seen as Midwestern, or perhaps as Californian — and appropriately so, since she’s decided to make her mark here.

The ‘Second Disaster’: Making Well-Intentioned Donations Useful.” By Pam Fessler. Weekend Edition Saturday/National Public Radio. January 12, 2013. Among the donations that poured into the American Red Cross building after the earthquake in Haiti three years ago was a box of Frisbees. In a flood of well-intentioned but unneeded donations, this box stuck out to Meghan O’Hara, who oversees in-kind donations for the organization. O’Hara says someone clearly wanted to help — the person mailed the box from Germany — but all she could think was, “Wow. That $60 or $70 could have been sent to so many different organizations to help out in so many different ways, and now we have a box of Frisbees.” Disaster relief groups call this the “second disaster”: the flood of unwanted donations, despite repeated requests for cash. In response to this recurring dilemma, organizations and volunteers are looking for new ways to bridge the gap between what donors give and victims need. Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, says this addresses what’s often another big problem in disaster giving. “Individual donors don’t know why they’re giving or have unrealistic expectations about their gift,” he says. Ottenhoff’s center, formed by a group of foundations and donors, was designed to figure out how best to help disaster victims over the long run. “There’s so much energy, so much generosity, so much passion that goes into disaster relief,” he says, “we sometimes forget that once the disaster is over, the long, hard work of recovery and rebuilding still needs to get done.” That could mean providing help with housing or services like day care. The center has collected $600,000 for Sandy relief so far and is now talking to those affected by the disaster about what kind of aid they really need.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 31, 2012-January 6, 2013)

Monday, January 7th, 2013


Donor of the Day: Gift to John Jay College Seeks to Expand Its Mission.” By V.L. Hendrickson. Wall Street Journal. January 1, 2013. When Andrew Shiva was looking at colleges, a family friend suggested the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “The cop school?” he asked. But, more than 20 years since Mr. Shiva started in 1990, the school has evolved into more of a liberal-arts institution and he wants to ensure it continues to move in that direction. Mr. Shiva, a psychologist, has donated $5 million to the school, the largest gift from an alumni in the college’s history. The gift is earmarked for the doctoral program in forensic and clinical psychology. A new art gallery at the college will be named for Mr. Shiva and his wife, Anya, in honor of the gift. Andrew Shiva. On Mr. Shiva’s first day at John Jay, the first thing he noticed was he was one of the only students who wasn’t carrying a gun. “At the dedication ceremony on the first day, it was a hot day, and as one man took his coat off, I noticed there was a revolver in his pants. Others had shoulder holsters, hip holsters…I was inadequately armed for class. It was still a cop school in 1990; it’s changed since then.” When Mr. Shiva, who is 42 years old, graduated with his B.A./M.A. in forensic psychology in 1997, he wanted to continue his study at John Jay. At the time, there wasn’t a doctoral program, however, and he ended up getting his doctorate in clinical psychology from Columbia University. But he’s hoping his gift will help get the program off the ground. “I want to make sure they have the resources and the freedom to do things the CUNY system and administration might not want to invest in,” he said. He hopes his initial gift will help the program grow into something greater. The gift will hopefully fund continued research, start a psychology research center and facilitate student-faculty partnerships,” added Mr. Shiva, who was the chief psychologist of the Division of Psychiatry at the NYU/Bellevue Hospital Center until 2009.

After Modest Life, Huge Gift to 2 Charities.” By Ray Rivera and Al Baker. New York Times. January 1, 2013. Mary McConnell Bailey died as quietly as she lived. At her request, no services were held. No obituary was written. Even one of her closest friends cannot say for sure where she is buried. But over the years, her name could be found hidden in the back pages of annual reports and the occasional news release of two city institutions that she had long cherished: the New York Public Library and the Central Park Conservancy. The steady pace of these yearly contributions only hinted at the fortune that she had inherited from her family’s involvement with a paper company whose composition pads are known to schoolchildren across America. Now, nearly two years after her death in February 2011 at 88, the full depth of Ms. Bailey’s wealth and charity is emerging as donations totaling about $20 million began flowing from her estate to the library and the conservancy. Ms. Bailey’s gifts were first reported in The New York Post. “No one would have known her wealth,” said Paul M. Frank, a lawyer and friend who is one of the trustees of Ms. Bailey’s estate. “Picture an old New Englander; that is what she was, in that style.” Amy Geduldig, a spokeswoman for the library system, called Ms. Bailey’s gift “one of the most significant ones that we’ve received in the past decade.” Tall and graceful, Ms. Bailey grew up wealthy in Northampton, Mass. Members of her mother’s side of the family were directors of the Roaring Spring Blank Book Company, the maker of the popular marble-cover notebooks. Her stepfather was James Rennie, a Broadway star.

OneVietnam nonprofit connects donors with people in need; By providing a one-click online portal, the San Francisco-based group seeks to make giving, and receiving, easy. It relies on a network of about 30 organizations.” By Anh Do. Los Angeles Times. January 1, 2013. When the nonprofit OneVietnam first revved up its outreach efforts with a $5,000 grant, it did something that left supporters stunned. Charity representatives bought iPods and distributed the then-trendy devices to disabled people in remote villages in Vietnam, urging them to share their stories, their hardships, their views on life in a country that many people had fled during wartime. “Everyone told us, ‘If you give them an iPod, they will sell it to ease their burdens,’ ” said Uyen Nguyen, a former economic consultant and a co-founder of OneVietnam. Instead, recipients seemed to understand that it was their moment to let fellow Vietnamese scattered around the globe know that they need their help. Through the iStories, OneVietnam connected donors with the disabled and the desperate, leveraging fundraising through social media. The San Francisco-based group, started by a trio of friends, re-launched this fall with a network of about 30 groups. It won a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation and created its iPod story-sharing effort with $5,000 from Yahoo. The charity also gained a vote of confidence from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who invited the group to do a demonstration at a conference focusing on immigrant populations. By providing a one-click portal for both donor and recipient, OneVietnam seeks to make giving, and receiving, easy. “Unlike other platforms, this is specific to one community,” said donor Erin O’Brien of Los Angeles, who teaches Asian American studies at UC Irvine and the Claremont Colleges. “It’s very difficult to donate to people in Vietnam because electronic banking isn’t the norm, and online money transfers aren’t common. They make it more accessible through their website.”

NY AG: Charities raise $400M for Sandy relief; Eric Schneiderman’s office surveyed 88 nonprofits about their fundraising for storm victims to find out who is raising the most money and how they intend to spend it. Gift cards to home supply stores are popular.” Crain’s New York Business/Associated Press. January 3, 2013. Charities in New York state have collectively raised more than $400 million for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, the state’s attorney general said Thursday. A survey of 88 nonprofits by Eric Schneiderman’s office found that as of mid-December, the fundraising for storm victims had been dominated by five charities, led by The American Red Cross, which had raised $188 million; the Robin Hood Foundation, which had taken in $67 million; and The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which collected $45 million. The Empire State Relief Fund raised another $15.4 million, and The Salvation Army’s eastern U.S. division raised $14.3 million. Donors can log on to the attorney general’s website to see how those organizations and 83 others say they intend to spend that money. Mr. Schneiderman said regulators will be following up with the groups to get more information about the services they have provided. “The generosity of the public and the hard work of charities in response to Hurricane Sandy is inspiring. As we continue to monitor charitable activities related to Sandy relief, it is essential that nonprofit organizations operate in the most transparent way possible,” he said, in a statement.

People Who Need Rich People.” By Joe Queenan. Wall Street Journal. January 5, 2013, For the past few years, rich people have really been taking it on the chin. They don’t pay enough in taxes. They hide their ill-gotten gains in mysterious bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. They use all kinds of extravagant loopholes to conceal income. Their greed, their miserliness, their abject refusal to pitch in and help are all that stand between the American people and the American dream. Or so the story goes. A world without the rich? No more opera. No more così. No more fan tutte. It seems to me that rich people are not getting a fair shake. Rich people are like the weather: unpredictable and often annoying, but where would we be without them? To act as if rich people take without ever giving, to condemn them as mere leeches who contribute nothing to society is ridiculous and dishonest. Rich people buy things. Rich people make things. Most important, rich people subsidize things. If you think the rest of us don’t need rich people to keep the economy going, just try to imagine what the world would be like if rich people got tired of all the abuse and simply up and left.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 24-30, 2012)

Monday, December 31st, 2012


UCLA philanthropy class benefits community groups and students; With $100,000 to grant to four area nonprofits, the students had their work cut out for them researching groups and persuading their classmates to approve their choices.” By Dalina Castellanos. Los Angeles Times. December 23, 2012. It’s not every day that college students have money to give away — particularly $100,000. But the students in a UCLA philanthropy class did just that. With a donation from the Texas-based Once Upon a Time Foundation, the students spent the quarter researching dozens of Los Angeles nonprofits, finally dividing the money among four groups. The class, the first of its kind at UCLA, was designed to educate students about the nature of philanthropy and how it functions in a large urban community with varying needs, said Judi Smith, who taught the class and is UCLA’s dean and vice provost for undergraduate education. “Students don’t usually have the opportunity to be reflective about personal investments in societal projects,” Smith said. The class “opened up a way of thinking about how our society is organized.” The foundation provided the money to help raise awareness about philanthropy. It has funded similar classes at Harvard, Yale and Stanford universities as well as the University of Michigan and the University of Texas.

Donor of the Day: Learning the Ways of Stock Markets.” By V.L. Hendrickson. Wall Street Journal. December 27, 2012. Some say experience is the best education. Richard Brueckner, chief of staff of BNY Mellon, agrees—especially when it comes to the stock market. Mr. Brueckner recently donated $10,000 to the Sifma Foundation of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association in support of two programs: the Stock Market Game and the Capitol Hill Challenge. He is also the chairman of the foundation’s board of directors. The Stock Market Game program gives students in grades 4 through 12 a chance to learn about investing. Sifma provides the computer technology that gives teams $100,000 of “play money” to acquire stocks, bonds, equities and other types of investments. Not only do they learn how the markets work, but also how to manage their money, do research on the companies before investing and other skills. The program, which was started in 1977, has a positive impact on traditional subjects, too. A 2008-2009 study conducted by Learning Point Associates (with a grant provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) found the program helped raise students’ math scores. And, anecdotal evidence has shown it helps with research and teamwork skills. More than 700,000 students participate each year, in teams of two. More than 12,000 teachers are also involved. Since the program is “out of the normal comfort zone” of many educators, Mr. Brueckner said they receive special training to help guide their pupils. This extends the reach of the game’s impact. “Teachers…are more knowledgeable about how to manage their own retirement funds,” Mr. Brueckner said. “And the parents also get more involved…it draws many adults into the process, as well.” As part of the Capitol Hill Challenge, Sifma seeks the participation of members of Congress, asking them to team up with schools in their districts. Winning teams are invited to Washington, D.C., where they are able to meet policy makers. Created in 2004, it has engaged more than 1,200 Congressmen and 30,000 students.

How Giving Became Cool.” By Nicholas D. Kristof. New York Times. December 26, 2012. speech — and decided, in a rush, to give away $1 billion. “I was on my way to New York to make the speech,” Turner recalled to me. “I just thought, what am I going to say?” So, in front of a stunned dinner audience, he announced a $1 billion gift to United Nations causes such as fighting global poverty. In nominal terms, before adjusting for inflation, that semiaccidental donation was, at the time, believed to be the biggest single gift ever made, and it has helped transform philanthropy. Tycoons used to compete for their place on the Forbes and Fortune lists of wealthiest people. If they did give back, it was often late in life and involved museums or the arts. They spent far more philanthropic dollars on oil paintings of women than on improving the lives of real women. Turner’s gift helped change that culture, reviving the tradition of great philanthropists like Rockefeller and Carnegie. Turner publicly began needling other billionaires — including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — to be more generous. That was a breach of etiquette, but it worked. “It’s a starting point for me of this modern era of high-profile big public giving,” reflected Matthew Bishop, co-author of “Philanthrocapitalism,” a terrific book about how the business world is reshaping philanthropy. “He called on others to step up, which did have a crystallizing effect on others. It allowed journalists and others who were talking to Bill Gates to say: ‘Why aren’t you giving more?’ ” Then they tormented Buffett with the same question. Ultimately, Gates and Buffett made huge contributions that are transforming the struggle against global disease and poverty.

Five myths about charitable giving.” By Ken Stern. Washington Post. December 27, 2012. Ken Stern is the chief executive of Palisades Media Ventures and a former chief executive of National Public Radio. His book “With Charity for All: Why Charities Are Failing and a Better Way to Give,” will be published in February. The last few days of the year may be a time of celebration and indulgence, but it is also when many people think about helping others. Though much of the roughly $240 billion in individual charitable contributions comes in December, these donations are often made hastily, based on poor information. Before writing those end-of-the-year checks, here are some things to remember about how charities work and how to evaluate them.

Charitable Fund Ends a Good Run.” By Pia Catton. Wall Street Journal. December 27, 2012. Irene Diamond, above, who died in 2003, set up her fund in 1994. The Irene Diamond Fund is closing at the end of the year, ending a long run of major contributions to AIDS research, public health, the performing arts and education in New York City. The fund is going out with a bang: $40 million in gifts is being dedicated to aging initiatives at institutions including Weill Cornell Medical College, Columbia University and the American Federation for Aging Research. Irene Diamond, who died in 2003, established her fund in 1994 with the intention of exhausting its resources within 10 years after her death. Her husband, the real estate developer Aaron Diamond, who died in 1984, had a similar philosophy: The original fund they established together, the Aaron Diamond Foundation, closed in 1996 after distributing $214 million to 700 projects. In total, they gave away nearly half a billion dollars. Their support is perhaps best known for creating the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, where the breakthrough AIDS treatment involving a combination of drugs was developed. “She wanted to have an impact now,” said Jane Silver, president of the Irene Diamond Fund. “If she had been able to spend all her money while she was alive, she probably would have.”

Getting the Most Bang for Your Charity Buck.” KCRW News. December 27, 2012. Many Americans are pulling out their checkbooks as part of a year-end surge in tax deductible giving. They’re donating in more targeted and specific ways than in years past. How has charitable giving changed in recent years, as donors have become more concerned about the effectiveness of the programs they are supporting? If tax laws change – and the deduction for giving is eliminated – will giving trends change?

Anaheim restaurant owner is a hands-on philanthropist; Handing out turkeys, cooking pasta for kids at Boys and Girls Clubs and helping the needy pay rent are ways an Italian immigrant gives back to his community.” By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times. December 27, 2012. Bruno Serato strolls down the middle of a narrow street, his signature white chef’s coat illuminated by the headlights of a cargo van. A light rain falls as he yells into the boxy homes that line the road at the Golden Skies Mobile Home Park in Anaheim. He stops each passing person — a man driving home from work, a woman pushing a child in a stroller. “Turkey,” he calls out, the Italian in his voice still thick. “Turkey!” The van is loaded with 12- and 13-pound turkeys, and the 56-year-old owner of the Anaheim White House restaurant is on another mission to help Orange County’s neediest. “You got your turkey already?” he asks a woman with curly hair. On this evening, he has commissioned several Chapman University students to help him pass out the birds. His path to philanthropy began about seven years ago when he and his mother — visiting from Italy — toured an Anaheim Boys and Girls Club. When she spotted a child eating potato chips, she implored her son to provide a decent meal. “That clicked,” he said. “She gave me a passion.” He started feeding pasta to all the children at the club, many of whom live at the motels that dot the city’s thoroughfares. He expanded his reach as he became more familiar with their struggles. Now he feeds children seven days a week at two Boys and Girls Clubs in Anaheim and hosts a Thanksgiving dinner for needy families at his pricey restaurant, complete with fake snow. This year, his nonprofit partnered with an organization that helps families get off the streets by providing first and last month’s rent. The philanthropy has made Serato something of an Orange County celebrity as well. He’s appeared on the “CBS Evening News With Katie Couric” and was named a 2011 CNN Hero for his charity work.