Author Archives: Maria Di Mento
October 15, 2012, 10:00 am
The fate of the charitable deduction worried many of the donors, grant makers, and nonprofit experts gathered in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday for the opening of the Philanthropy Roundtable’s annual conference.
Loss of the deduction would be so devastating to philanthropy, said one legal expert, that she urged donors and other nonprofit advocates to push to amend the Constitution or the federal tax code so that a donor’s gross income would be reduced by the amount he or she contributes to charity.
“Stop calling it a deduction and start calling it an incentive,” said Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who advises nonprofits, corporations, and political candidates and campaigns. “If you give money to charity, it should not be defined as income.”
Sandra Swirski, head of the Alliance for Charitable Reform, a coalition of foundations and donors, said she feared reductions in the a…
September 5, 2012, 9:00 am
Philanthropy studies at the university level just got a very prominent booster as one of the nation’s most prominent foundation leaders moves to academe.
Paul Brest, the former president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, who stepped down from that post last week, has been named faculty co-director of Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the university announced today.
Mr. Brest, who started out as an expert on constitutional law, and in later years has focused on decision-making and philanthropy, is no stranger to Stanford. He joined Stanford Law School in 1969 and served as dean of the school from 1987 to 1999. He left to lead the Hewlett Foundation in 2000.
He said in an interview with The Chronicle that he is joining the center so he can continue to be actively involved in writing about philanthropy and teaching the practice of it.
August 30, 2012, 2:44 pm
Warren Buffett said today he would give each of his three children $1-billion to donate, in addition to the $1-billion gifts he made to each of their philanthropies in 2006.
To celebrate his 82nd birthday, he said in a letter to his children that he is awarding 12,220,852 Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares to each of their foundations.
Mr. Buffett made history in 2006 when he pledged stock, then worth more than $30-billion, to the Gates Foundation and about $3-billion to a foundation established by his late first wife, Susan Thompson Buffett.
He also pledged stock valued at roughly $1.2-billion apiece to each one of the three foundations created by his children, Susan, Howard, and Peter.
While the value of the stock has fluctuated over the years, Mr. Buffett has been steadily paying off all of his 2006 pledges every year since.
Mr. Buffett’s daughter, Susan Buffett,…
August 20, 2012, 6:36 pm
The Laura and John Arnold Foundation has created a new online forum to help philanthropists learn about charities and then connect with the ones that interest them.
The new Web site is called the Giving Library and includes videos from 250 nonprofits hoping to catch the attention of donors who visit the site. The videos detail each organization’s history, mission, challenges, and plans as well as the results they have achieved.
Donors who find them interesting can then anonymously seek out more information.
Foundation officials are evaluating 100 more charities that hope to be added to the site, says Meredith Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Arnold fund.
Charities that are interested in being added to the library can apply online.
To be considered, a nonprofit must show proof of its tax-exempt status, including its Form 990 informational tax forms. The foundation then…
July 20, 2012, 7:01 pm
As foundations adjust their approaches to dealing with the tough economy and changing needs, they often face a big challenge in how to tell grantees that money is about to disappear.
The situation can be even tougher when a grant maker takes a new approach to dealing with some of society’s most vulnerable, as the Annie E. Casey Foundation has learned the hard way in recent weeks.
Casey announced last month that it was getting out of the business of providing direct support to foster-care families to free up $20-million a year for grants to organizations that care for such youngsters and handle other social-service needs.
That news stunned Mark Floegel, a Vermont foster parent, who with his wife has cared for half a dozen children over the years through the foundation’s program. The family is now in the process of adopting a 16-year-old foster daughter, but Mr. Floegel felt…
June 27, 2012, 10:05 am
Three affluent families are forming a fund with the purpose of raising $30-million to support programs that serve military veterans, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America announced today.
The families have donated more than $1-million and plan to seek contributions especially from other wealthy people, including those without personal connections to any service members.
Philip Green, president of PDG Consulting, a health-care consultancy, and his wife, Elizabeth Cobbs, chief of geriatrics at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C., joined with their friends Glenn and Laurie Garland and with the Jim Stimmel family to create the fund, Mr. Green said in an interview with The Chronicle.
The money raised for the new Veterans Support Fund will be funneled to five nonprofits that help returning service members and their families.
In addition to Iraq and…
June 26, 2012, 6:16 pm
The Annie E. Casey Foundation on Tuesday announced plans to close a foster-care unit it runs, a move that will eliminate 280 jobs and free up roughly $20-million a year in grants to nonprofits that help government agencies serve the needy, including youngsters in foster care.
The closure of Casey Family Services affects employees who provide services in seven states.
Patrick McCarthy, president of the Casey Foundation, said he believes his organization can do more good by providing grants to improve child welfare across the country than it can by continuing to assist the 400 to 600 youngsters it now helps through direct services.
Plans include making sure that all the children now served by Casey Family Services get transferred to other foster-care agencies, with the transition ideally completed by the end of the year. However, the foundation said it will retain some staff…
June 19, 2012, 4:09 pm
America’s wealthy are in a less generous mood so far this year.
The number of donations of $1-million or more has dropped 8 percent since the beginning of 2012 compared with the same period last year, according to a Chronicle tally.
Since the start of 2012, The Chronicle has confirmed, 318 gifts of $1-million or more have been made, totaling $2.5-billion. In the first half of 2011 there were fewer such gifts, 292, but the overall total was larger, $2.7-billion.
Gifts of $100-million or more have decreased significantly. In the first half of last year The Chronicle reported six such gifts, totaling $835-million, while only two donations of that size have been announced this year, totaling $450-million.
The two largest gifts awarded so far this year are a $300-million pledge to the Allen Institute for Brain Science, from its founder, Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft; an…
June 19, 2012, 9:12 am
Even in tough economic times, wealthy Americans still believe strongly that they have a duty to give, a new survey says.
About 69 percent of rich people said they have a responsibility to pass on to their children a tradition of philanthropic giving, according to the study by U.S. Trust of 642 people with investable assets of at least $3-million.
Two-thirds of those who are 67 and older and 73 percent of baby boomers said philanthropy is an important social responsibility for all generations. About 53 percent of those age 18 to 46 said charitable giving is a responsibility.
Attitudes by the wealthy on how to create positive social change differed by generation and gender.
Of those 18 to 46, 44 percent said they were more likely to see an opportunity to effect positive change through their work, compared to 18 percent of baby boomers.
Nearly one-third of the younger…
June 7, 2012, 1:09 pm
Giving by U.S. foundations totaled an estimated $46.9-billion last year, an increase of only 2 percent from 2010 and a more than 2 percent drop from 2009, according to a new study on foundation giving.
However, when inflation is taken into account, giving was actually down from 2010, the Foundation Center study says, signaling a continued rough road for charities that rely on foundation grants for the bulk of their support.
The survey shows that if the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—the country’s wealthiest grant maker, with more than $37.4-billion in assets—had not been included, foundation giving would have decreased last year by about 3 percent, after accounting for inflation.
In addition, more than 33 percent of respondents gave less in 2011, likely the result of unchanged asset levels last year and little or no growth in assets since 2007, according to the report….