Archive for September, 2009

Give and Take: Debating Pay at the Gates Foundation, and More

A debate has erupted over whether the almost $1-million compensation for the chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is justified, notes Give and Take, The Chronicle’s column summarizing the most-interesting blog posts about the nonprofit world.

Plus, in Tuesday’s roundup:

  • Are charities losing the momentum to change?
  • How a stringent vetting process is denying the federal government talented nonprofit officials.
  • Why increasing foundation payout probably isn’t the solution.
  • Advice to consider before you start a charity.

Prospecting: Predictions About 2010 Foundation Giving

Sean Stannard-Stockton, an adviser to donors and a columnist for The Chronicle, predicts foundation giving will plummet in 2010, reports Prospecting, The Chronicle’s online column about charity efforts to collect private donations.

Plus: One consultant says that street fund raisers are going after the wrong age group.

Big Michigan Foundations Support Census Effort

In the absence of state funds typically allocated for Michigan’s census count, some of the state’s most prominent philanthropies are offering grants to promote the decennial population count, reports Crain’s Detroit Business.

The Kresge, W.K. Kellogg, and Charles Stewart Mott foundations, as well as the Joyce Foundation, in Chicago, will give $300,000 through the Michigan Nonprofit Association to organizations working on census efforts.

“While the current [state] budget discussions are important, they won’t be as long-lasting as the consequences of the census,” said Kyle Caldwell, the association’s president. The 2010 count will largely determine federal money for the region and state in the following decade.

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United Way Chapters Cut Fund-Raising Targets

A move by local United Way chapters across the country to reduce fund-raising goals after falling short of last year’s targets is the subject of a report in USA Today.

The charity is shifting focus to “impact goals,” according to Sally Fabens, spokeswoman for United Way Worldwide. The organization’s priorities for the next decade include reducing dropout rates and increasing families’ health and financial stability.

Bank of America Puts Hold on Housing Work With Acorn

Bank of America has suspended its cooperation with the housing arm of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or Acorn, pending an assessment of the nonprofit group’s operations, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Acorn Housing, which was founded by the community-organizing outfit Acorn in the 1980s but has its own budget and board of directors, is among the nonprofit groups Bank of America works with on foreclosure-prevention efforts. The parent organization has come under fire over hidden-camera videos seemingly showing staff members offering advice on prostitution and tax evasion.

Michael Shea, executive director of Acorn Housing, in Chicago, said the group is “not surprised that our lending partners like Bank of America want assurances that this won’t happen again.” He said the organization is putting staff members through ethics training and hopes to resume the partnership with Bank of America once it has dealt with the issue.

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Michael J. Fox’s New Canada Charity Raises Concern for Parkinson’s Groups

Actor Michael J. Fox’s opening of a Canadian chapter of his Parkinson’s charity is sparking concern among existing groups that the high-profile organization will overshadow ongoing efforts to fight the disease there, The Globe and Mail reports.

The Canadian-born star, who was diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease in the early 1990s, formally opened the new arm of his Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in Toronto last week.

Joyce Gordon, president of the Parkinson Society of Canada, worried that Mr. Fox’s organization could undercut donations to her group and divert funds and attention from existing education and support campaigns.

Mr. Fox said the notion of his group competing with other Parkinson’s charities “is crazy to me. We’re grateful for anybody who’s involved in any facet of the journey that Parkinson’s patients are on.”

Obituaries: Donald Fisher, Joseph Gurwin, and Ruth Cole Kainen

Three prominent philanthropists have died recently:

  • Donald Fisher, the billionaire co-founder of the clothing chain the Gap and a major supporter of education and art, died September 27 of cancer, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Mr. Fisher amassed one of the world’s most important modern-art collections. He and his wife, Doris, have donated $60-million since 2000 to the nonprofit charter-school operator KIPP and $40-million to Teach for America.
  • Joseph Gurwin, who donated much of his textiles fortune to medical, scientific, and education causes in the United States and Israel, died September 24 of congestive heart failure in his Manhattan home, reports The New York Times. A native of Lithuania who made millions manufacturing specialized textiles for the military, Mr. Gurwin chaired the UJA-Federation of New York from 1988 to 1991, helped found the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and established the Rosalind and Joseph Gurwin Jewish Geriatric Center of Long Island.
  • Ruth Cole Kainen, an art collector who donated more than 700 works to the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art, died earlier this month of congestive heart failure, reports The Washington Post. Ms. Kainen’s collection, amassed over several decades with her late husband, the artist and curator Jacob Kainen, encompassed paintings, drawings, engravings, and prints dating from the 15th century to the present day.

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From The Chronicle: Compensation of Charity and Foundation CEO’s Grew Fast Last Year, but a Slowdown Expected Now

Compensation of nonprofit executives at the nation’s biggest charities and foundations rose by a median of 7 percent in 2008, but nearly three in 10 nonprofit leaders are taking a pay cut this year, according to a new Chronicle survey.

Subscribers to The Chronicle have exclusive access to a searchable database on compensation of top executives at 325 charities and foundations. Plus you can learn more details about which nonprofit executives took pay cuts and how they made their decisions about whether to do so and to make compensation changes that affect other nonprofit leaders. And you can read about a new study from Guidestar that shows that a big gap persists in the pay of leaders of big charities and those who work at small nonprofit groups.

Government and Politics Watch: IRS Provides New 990 Advice

The Internal Revenue Service has released the sixth in a series of filing tips to help nonprofit organizations prepare their Form 990 federal informational tax return, the primary document that groups file each year, reports Government and Politics Watch, an online Chronicle column.

Give and Take: Applying the eBay Model to Charity, and More

A nonprofit consultant urges the nonprofit world to consider ways to operate more like Internet companies, with peer-to-peer interactions, notes Give and Take, The Chronicle’s column summarizing the most-interesting blog posts about the nonprofit world.


  • Offering investment banks a “route out of their reputational hell.”
  • Predictions on trends that will matter most to the charitable world in 2010.
  • Rethinking how to refer to the world’s 4 billion impoverished people.
  • Determining the size of a charitable deduction for the gift of a stuffed beaver.