Archive for May, 2009

MAJOR STORIES (May 18 – May 24, 2009)

Friday, May 29th, 2009


The New York Times published a special section, “Wealth & Personal Finance,” in the May 21, 2009 edition of the paper. It contains several important items on charitable giving, including financial reporter David Cay Johnston’s “Smart giving in a troubled climate.”

“Investor-funded research could bring march of science to a standstill; As private concerns increasingly tread on the territory of academic researchers, the result could be secrecy, delay and the pursuit of quick financial returns.” By Michael Hiltzik. Los Angeles Times. May 25, 2009.


“Rose closes – temporarily – but art lovers express anguish; Visitors fear for Brandeis museum’s holdings.” By Geoff Edgers. Boston Globe. May 18, 2009.

“Economic meltdown takes the funding out of festivals.” Patrick Walters. Boston Globe/ Associated Press. May 24, 2009. Although festivals like Boston’s annual tall ships event and Detroit’s Michigan State Fair bring thousands of visitors and millions of dollars to their host communities, financially-strapped states and municipalities are looking to them as sources of fees and are curtailing subsidies.

“Madoff Loss Hits Art Aid for Young in Israel.” By Daniel J. Wakin. New York Times. May 21, 2009. For decades, the America-Israel Cultural Foundation has been a major supporter of music in Israel. The loss of its $14 million endowment to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme raises questions about its future.


“‘US scholars planning Islamic college.”
By Rachel Zoll. Washington Post/Associated Press. May 17, 2009. A group of American Muslims, led by two prominent scholars, is moving closer to fulfilling a vision of founding the first four-year accredited Islamic college in the United States, what some are calling a “Muslim Georgetown.’” The institution hopes not only train Muslim religious leaders, but also teach students how to start American Muslim nonprofits.

“Harvard’s Role As a Nonprofit.” By Laura M Binger, John F Bowman, & Benjamin J. Oldfield. Op-ed. Harvard Crimson. May 21, 2009. Assessing Harvard’s response to the recession, student editorialists assert that the tax breaks that have enabled the university to amass its multi-billion dollar endowment bring responsibilities to the public. If Harvard fails to recognize these, they warn, its status as a nonprofit should be

“State Auditors Critical: Connecticut Student Loan Foundation Faces Multimillion-Dollar Deficits.” By Grace E. Merritt. Hartford Courant. May 21, 2009. Squandering funds on luxuries for its executives and board, the state’s student loan foundation draws criticism from auditors, who question its future viability.

“Brandeis Halts Retirement Payment.” By Tamar Lewin. New York Times. May 22, 2009. Buffeted by continuing losses, Brandeis University announced that it would suspend contributions to faculty and staff retirement accounts beginning in July. Until Brandeis’s announcement, the only institutions to repudiate their commitments to their employees were a handful of small Midwestern schools.


“Activist Financier ‘Terrorizes’ Bankers in Foreclosure Fight.” By James R. Hagerty & Ruth Simon. Wall Street Journal. May 21, 2009. Bruce Marks’s Neighborhood Assistance Corporation has emerged as “one of the loudest scourges of the banking industry in the post-bubble economy,” fearlessly taking on mortgage bankers and their companies and advocating for homeowners facing foreclosure.


A variety of media carried reports of the exposee of physical and sexual abuse of children in Ireland’s church-run orphanages over the past half century. These reports include:

“Survivors of Ireland’s Catholic-run workhouses angry that abusers were not named.” By Shawn Pogatchnik. Chicago Tribune/Associated Press. May 21, 2009.

“Report Details Abuses in Irish Reformatories.”
By Sarah Lyall. New York Times. May 21, 2009.

“Irish Report Casts Harsh Light on Abuse by Catholic Church.” By Cassell Bryan-Low. Wall Street Journal. May 22, 2009.

“A Century of Looking the Other Way.” By John Banville. Op-ed. New York Times. May 23, 2009

“Donations to help Pakistan’s refugees reach $200 million 1.9m have fled as fight goes on against Taliban.” By Chris Brummitt. Boston Globe/Associated Press. May 22, 2009. At the behest of Pakistan’s government, which recently held a donors’ conference, governments and private charities have pledged generously to aid refugees displaced by Taliban insurgency.

“Opposition to anti-aid campaigner grows.” By William Wallis. Financial Times. May 22 2009.
Zambian economist and former investment banker, Dambisa Moyo, has emerged as an influential critic of development assistance programs with the publication of her book (co-authored with Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, Dead Aid: Why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009). Jeffrey Sachs, Bob Geldoff, and other leading development aid advocates are mobilizing to oppose her message.


“Red Cross Workers Fight Staffing, Wage Changes In Contract Talks.” By Lynn Foan. Hartford Courant. May 22, 2009. Is Red Cross holding up negotiations nationwide in an attempt to “bust unions,” drive down wages, and worsen working conditions as unions claim? Unions in at least 11 other states are joining forces to protest Red Cross’s negotiating tactics.


“Google drops idea to buy newspaper.” By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson and Chrystia Freeland. Financial Times. May 20 2009. Information giant Google after actively considering the purchase a newspaper or using its charitable arm to support news businesses seeking non-profit status, has had second thoughts.


“Charitable Misgivings; Student groups must fulfill their advertised commitments to charity.”
By Olivia M. Goldhill. Op-ed. Harvard Crimson. May 20, 2009. Opinion piece observes that “Harvard students are often thought of as possessing those characteristics that forge prominent careers in politics: leadership, charisma, high intelligence—and a dubious interpretation of honesty” — especially when it comes to fulfilling commitments to charities made in marketing campus events.


“Feeling the Squeeze, Exclusive Country Clubs Get the Common Touch.” By Eli Saslow.Washington Post, May 21, 2009. With more than 500 on the verge of bankruptcy, once exclusive country clubs are making themselves more accessible to the public.

“Union’s Rich Assets Recall the Glory Days.” By Kris Maher. Wall Street Journal. May 21, 2009. Despite declining membership unions like the United Auto Workers are sitting on billions in assets. Rank-and-file question the use of funds as perks for union brass.


“Women Are Storming Charities.”
By Shelly Banjo. Wall Street Journal Wallet blog. May 15, 2009. Wealthy women are beginning to coordinate their giving on a national basis through such groups as the Women’s Funding Network, the No-Vo Foundation, and Women Moving Millions.

“Rich Feel Guilty About Giving to Charity.” No by-line. Wall Street Journal Wealth blog. May 18, 2009/

“Philanthropists Set Spending Deadlines.” By Shelly Banjo. Wall Street Journal. May 21, 2009. “A growing number of philanthropists are adopting spending deadlines and sunset provisions to ensure urgent global needs are addressed in a timely way.By granting the entirety of funds within a certain period of time, these charitable efforts are looking to have a bigger immediate impact than traditional foundations, which are typically set up to last forever and pay out roughly 5% of assets a year.” Among the leaders of these initiatives are Bill Gates, Jennifer and Peter Buffett, and Charles (Anonymous Donor) Feeney.


“Jewish day schools facing an economic crisis; Jewish campuses in Southern California and across the nation are financially ailing, prompting calls for major education reforms and increased support from the wider Jewish community.” By Carla Rivera. Los Angeles Times. May 18, 2009.

“Catholic school mergers on the rise.”
By Mary E. O’Leary. New Haven Register. May 18, 2009. Responding to dwindling enrollments and increasing costs, the Archdiocese of Hartford — like many others — seeks the survival of parochial education through consolidation. Critics charge that the disconnection of schools from parishes diminishes the sense of community that made these schools unique.

“Jewish agencies forced to downsize; Madoff, economy have big impact.” By Michael Paulson. Boston Globe. May 22, 2009. Estimating that the Jewish community — one of America’s most generous — has lost a third of its wealth, Jewish organizations face massive cuts to programs and services.

“The Bully Pulpit.” By Jim Auchmutey. Wall Street Journal. May 22, 2009. A conservative Atlanta United Church of Christ congregation struggles against the power of the national denomination.

“Big Pulpit.” By N.R. Kleinfield. New York Times. May 24, 2009. New York City’s largest megachurch, with over 31,000 members and an $18.5 million operating budget, is a “tight, corporate-style” organization run by a charismatic pastor.

MAJOR NEWS STORIES (May 11-17, 2009)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009


“Nonprofits need more support now.” By William W. Ginsburg. Op-ed. New Haven Register. May 13, 2009. Head of New Haven’s community foundation urges greater public support for nonprofits.


“Fine Art Fund’s Hoffman Seeks to Raise $100 Million to Buy Art.” By Claudia Carpenter. May 16, 2009. As recession forces wealthy and corporations to sell art, new philanthropy stands ready to buy.

“What fate for the carriage house that Mrs. Jack built? Dispute erupts over Gardner Museum plan.” By Sebastian Smee. Boston Globe. May 17, 2009. Battle over future of historic structure raises questions about the quality of a museum’s leadership and fidelity to mission.


“They Had It Made.” Op-ed. By David Brooks. New York Times. May 12, 2009. Opinion piece on Harvard’s Class of 1942 and Grant Study, which followed them and other Harvard graduates of the era through their entire lives.

“The Harvard disadvantage; Despite outreach, the needy face socioeconomic gulf.” By Tracy Jan. Boston Globe. May 12, 2009. Persistence class distinctions cast their shadows over student life at the nation’s oldest and wealthiest university.

“First Round of Cuts Sweeps Harvard’s Largest School.” By Esther I. Yi & Bonnie J. Kavoussi. Harvard Crimson. Insightful reportage on the the recession’s impact on Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences. May 13, 2009.

“25 Percent Budget Cuts May Affect House Administrators.” By Bita M. Assad & Ahmed N. Mabruk. Harvard Crimson. May, 15, 2009.” Life in Harvard dorms affected by budget cuts.

“University To Freeze Property Purchases.” By Peter F. Zhu. Harvard Crimson. May 15, 2009. University’s ambitious expansion curtailed by shortage of funds.

“FAS to Increase Section Size In Order To Accommodate Budget Saving Measures.” By Noah S. Rayman & Elyssa A.L. Spitzer. Harvard Crimson. May 15, 2009. The impact of the recession of Harvard’s academic offerings.

“What makes us happy.” By Joshua Wolf Shenk. Atlantic. June 2009. Article on the Grant Study, which has followed the lives of a selected group of Harvard graduates from their college days into their nineties. A remarkable account of the impact of imaginative grant making.


“Recession Fails to Halt Spring Charity Benefits.” By Stephanie Strom. New York Times. May 9, 2009.

“Donors Find Gift Annuities Can Stop Giving; Market Turmoil Saps Ability Of Some Charities to Continue Paying Out Promised Yields.”
By Mike Spector & Shelly Banjo. Wall Street Journal. May 12, 2009.

“Robin Hood Event Adjusts to Tough Times.” By Stephanie Strom & Graham Bowley. New York Times. May 13, 2009. New York charity galas ain’t what they used to be.


“Hospitals Begin to Move Into Supermarkets.” By Milt Freudenheim. New York Times. May 12, 2009. Nonprofit outreach: Hospitals form joint ventures with Wal-Mart and other retailers.


“Ex-developer gives $100m to Habitat.”
Boston Globe/Associated Press. May 15, 2009. Habitat’s willingness to receive this gift represents a shift of direction for the for the organization, which in the past has refused large donations, preferring to depend on the volunteer energies and small contributions of supporters.


“Would Geffen See a Times Co. Investment as Charity?” By Andrew Ross Sorkin. DealBook Blog. May 14, 2009. Entertainment mogul David Geffen reportedly seeks a major stake in the New York Times with a view to turning it into a nonprofit.

“The Public Editor: The Tip That Didn’t Pan Out.” By Clark Hoyt. Editorial. New York Times. May 17, 2009. The Times denies right wing accusations that it withheld news about the ACORN scandal to influence the outcome of the presidential election.


“Principled Investing Gains More Fans.” By Jilian Mincer. Wall Street Journal. May 13, 2009. Ethical investing in the spotlight.


“Giving businesses a voice.” By Robert Gavin. Boston Globe. May 17, 2009. Boston’s Chamber of Commerce celebrates a century of service to the business community.


“A Dog’s Inheritance; Donor intent gets mauled again.” Editorial. Wall Street Journal. May 12, 2009. Editorial on the disposition of Leona Helmsley’s estate.

“The Fight for Little Sweetie’s Billions Is Getting More Than a Little Weird Feng Shui Master: I Was Her Secret Lover; Puppet Show: Don’t Believe It.” By Jonathan Cheng. Wall Street Journal. May 13, 2009. Foundation and paramour battle for control of the estate of Asia’s wealthiest women.

“Brandeis Plan to Raze Building Sparks Donor Suit.” By John Hechinger. Wall Street Journal. May 13, 2009. The Journal continues to rock its donor intent hobby horse.

“Philanthropy faces Madoff suit; Trustee says Picower should have seen fraud.”
By Tom Hays. Boston Globe/Associated Press. May 13, 2009. Family foundation, supporter of MIT, the New York Public Library, and medical research, destroyed by Madoff peculations.

“Charities Rethink Glitz Quotient for Their Galas.” By Mike Spector. Wall Street Journal. May 14, 2009.

“A Long Road Back, but Not a Lonely One.” By Vincent M. Mallozzi. New York Times. May 17, 2009. The Jazz Foundation of America continues its work of aiding aged and disabled musicians.

“Let them eat cash: Can Bill Gates turn hunger into profit?” By Frederick Kaufman. Harper’s, June 2009. Examination of mixed motives behind Bill Gates’s global initiatives.


“An Upstart Church Movement Wrestles With Growing Older.” By Amy Docker Marcus. Wall Street Journal. May 13, 2009. Effort to integrate mainline religion with contemporary culture suffers growing pains.

“North Lawndale churches: Are they causing more harm than good? Some pastors say there’s a huge need; critics say they’re stifling economic growth.” By Ofelia Casillas and Margaret Ramirez. Chicago Tribune. May 17, 2009. Chicago neighborhood which boasts the city’s highest concentration of churches is also its poorest and most troubled by crime and the drug trade.

“Hopes and Habits Persevere at Churches Gone, but Not Destroyed.” By Paul Vitello & Christine Haughney. May 17, 2009. New York Times. Impact of continuing parish closings on New York’s Catholic communities.


“Mom connects families to feed the hungry.” May 15, 2009.

MAJOR NEWS STORIES (May 4-May 10, 2009)

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009


The Science Prize: Innovation or Stealth Advertising? Rewards for Advancing Knowledge Have Blossomed Recently, but Some Say They Don’t Help Solve Big Problems.” By Robert Lee Hotz. Wall Street Journal. May 8, 2009.

Mrs. Obama Announces New Fund to Aid Nonprofits.” By Rachel L. Swarns. New York Times. May 6, 2009. The Obama administration announces a plan to create a $50 million “social innovation fund” to help finance and expand promising nonprofit agencies, offering financial support to nonprofit and community groups focus on education, health care and economic mobility, among other issues.


More Acorn Voter Fraud Comes to Light; Congressional Democrats still want the group to be eligible for federal money.” By John Fund. Wall Street Journal. May 9, 2009.


Lincoln Center: Mixed Reviews.” By Anthony Tommasini. New York Times. May 10, 2009. Retrospective view of Lincoln Center, the nation’s preeminent performing arts complexes, on its fiftieth anniversary.

My Dream Is for Sale; Buy It for Me.” By Jori Finkel. New York Times. May 10, 2009. How Los Angeles County Museum curators persuade their collections committee to acquire new works.

Dance, Make Art, Save Planet, Earn Cash.” By Kathryn Shattuck. New York Times. May 10, 2009. Why Momix, the popular cutting-edge dance group, chose to organize as a for-profit rather than a nonprofit.

Contract Disputes in the Dance World: It’s Not Always Easy to Bend the Rules.” By Claudia La Rocco. New York Times. May 9, 2009.

What are zoos for?” By Peter Barber. Financial Times. May 8 2009. A global perspective on the rise and fall of zoos as educational and entertainment enterprises.


The Instigator: A Crusader’s Plan to Remake Failing Schools.” By Douglas McGray. New Yorker. 5-11-09. Profile of California charter school entrepreneur Steve Barr and his education reform crusade.

Romance and the College Recruiter.” By Naomi Hanff Korelitz. Wall Street Journal. May 9, 2009. Review of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel, Admission (Grand Central), a fictional account of a college admissions officer.

Slump Revives Town-Gown Divide Across U.S.” By Abby Goodnough. New York Times. May 9, 2009. The downsizing of university expansion plans throughout the country stirs anger in cash-strapped municipalities that had been expecting jobs, urban revitalization, and increased tax revenues.

Small science foundation feels sting of Obama budget cuts.” Dick Uliano. May 7, 2009. The federally-funded Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, which provides life-science scholarships and fellowships for students and professional researchers, is slated to lose its entire $1 million annual appropriation under President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget plan.


PBS to Shorten Time Commitments for Sponsorships.” By Brian Stelter. New York Times. May 8, 2009. Feeling the pinch of marketing budgets, public television stations are being forced to be more creative when they approach corporate underwriters. Some stations are offering sponsorships of single shows in place of entire seasons.


How Clubs Are Surviving Now Private Golf Clubs, Reeling From Recession Losses, Scramble to Adapt; No More Cut-Up Fruit.” By John Paul Newport. Wall Street Journal. May 9, 2009. Though not charitables, most social clubs are nonprofits. They too are feeling the pinch.

Credit unions are a good alternative to banks: The nonprofit cooperatives aren’t as exclusive as they once were and often have better interest rates and lower fees.” By Kathy M. Kristof. Los Angeles Times. May 3, 2009.


Charities Reap Benefits of Contests on Internet.” By Stephanie Strom. New York Times. May 10, 2009. Nonprofits vie for support in corporation-sponsored contests.

Recession Fails to Halt Spring Charity Benefits.” By Stephanie Strom. New York Times. May 9, 2009.


Proudly Pro-Choice on Education: New York’s archbishop on schools and the challenges facing the Catholic Church.” By Mary Anastasia O’Grady. Wall Street Journal. May 9, 2009. An interview with Timothy J. Dolan, the new spiritual leader of New York’s Roman Catholics.

MAJOR NEW STORIES (April 27-May 3, 2009)

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009


21 Regional Nonprofits Withdraw From United Way; Mistrust, Decline in Area Giving Cited.” By Megan Greenwell. Washington Post. April 29, 2009. The United Way continues to compete with alternative funds.


Art Institute: Old ordinance may force more free days at Art Institute of Chicago Museum is set to raise admission cost, but Ald. Ed Burke finds 1891 law that may blunt fee hike.” By Mark Caro. Chicago Tribune. April 28, 2009. As the Chicago Art Institute endeavors to make ends meet by imposing and raising fees, the public pushes back.


The Recession at Yale.” By Margy Slattery. Yale Daily News. April 30, 2009. An installment in an outstandingly discerning series of articles on the impact of the current economic disaster on some of our wealthiest institutions.

Colleges Flunk Economics Test as Harvard Model Destroys Budgets.” By Yalman Onaran. May 1, 2009. At long last, segments of the press initiate a critique of the “geniuses” whose willingness to take extreme risks have prostrated some of our wealthiest institutions.

Panel backing Brandeis officials: Formed to look at possible art sale.” By Geoff Edgers. Boston Globe. May 1, 2009. The latest installment in a depressing chronicle of

Ivy’s growth transforms a city: Penn’s $500m expansion could be Harvard’s model.” By Tracy Jan. Boston Globe. May 3, 2009. With bloated endowments (even after the crash), elite private universities continue to work their will on the communities in which they are located.


American Radicals as Co-op Housing Pioneers.” By Samuel G. Freedman. New York Times. April 27, 2009. A reminder that cooperatives, though not charities, are an important manifestation of nonprofit enterprise.


“A social lifeline is severed; West Roxbury center for the blind closing its doors.” By Meghan Irons. Boston Globe. April 30, 2009. A reminder of the continuing erosion of traditional forms of nonprofit activity.

For children, an urban lifeline; Leaders of Boston nonprofits hope to replicate New York’s well-being zone.” By James Vaznis. Boston Globe. May 1, 2009.


Google Unveils New Tool To Dig for Public Data.” By Kim Hart. Washington Post. April 29, 2009. These days, public data include information on nonprofits.


Foundation of The Times Suspends Gift Program.” By Stephanie Strom. New York Times. April 24, 2009

Getty Trust to slash budget and lay off 97 workers.” Los Angeles Times. April 27, 2009.

Gates Makes Lifetime Pledge to Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.” By Erik Holm and Betty Liu. April 28. 2009. Gates’s pledge cements his philanthropic bond with the Sage of Omaha.

Astor’s Giving Is Questioned by Son’s Lawyer.” By Jennifer 8. Lee. New York Times/City Room Blog. April 29, 2009. The Times is providing detailed coverage of the Astor case. This is but one episode of a singular drama of wealth and philanthropy.

Ford Foundation to Close Two Overseas Offices.” By Mike Spector. Wall Street Journal. April 29, 2009.

Foundation Backs Foreclosures Project.” By Mike Spector. Wall Street Journal. May 1m 2009.

Keep Donations Flexible Now to Avoid Conflict Tomorrow.” By Paul Sullivan. New York Times. May 2, 2009. Practical advice on how to avoid donor control litigation.

I’m Honored. No, Actually, I Can’t Afford It.” By Judity H. Dpbrzynski. New York Times. May 3, 2009. In tough times, honorees sometimes have to decline to be honored.


A Provocative Work About the Christian Right.” By Peter Steinfels. New York Times. April 25, 2009. This review of Claremont-McKenna political scientist Jon A. Shields’s The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right (Princeton) calls attention to the role of contemporary evangelical movements in strengthening democracy and civil society.

More in US switch religious affiliations; Study cites loss of faith, personal circumstances.” By Michael Paulson. Boston Globe. April 28, 2009. Another reminder that we are a “nation of seekers.”

Diocese makes financial progress; Hires new team at high salaries.” By Michael Paulson. Boston Globe. May 1, 2009.

Defecting to Faith.” By Charles M. Blow. New York Times. May 2, 2009.


“‘Big Sunday’ volunteers work their magic in Watts: About 30 transform a family’s frontyard as part of a weekend-long annual community service effort across Southern California.” By Esmeralda Bermudez. Los Angeles Times. May 3, 2009. Voluntarism California-style!