Philanthropy Notes: October 2012

Giving by affluent donors with incomes of $200,000 or more plummeted by $31 billion during the 2007-9 recession, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. New information provided by the IRS also shows that Americans who earned $100,000 or less per annum cut back to the tune of $4 billion during the recession. Individuals at every income level wrote off $158 billion in charitable donations in 2009 and $172 billion the previous year. Donors aren’t opening their wallets because they are nervous about the economy and uncertain whether Congress will hike tax rates or cap charitable deductions.

The American Bankers Association is creating a 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization” to funnel cash to political groups focusing on Senate races, according to reports. The association’s chief operating officer, Michael Hunter, said he expects the fund will raise $2 million this election cycle. The new nonprofit will collect contributions of up to $10,000 from the association’s 5,000 member banks and then donate a large chunk of that money to so-called super political action committees (super PACs).

Although major daily newspapers have recently secured large foundation grants for reporting projects, small, innovative journalism projects often have to beg for support, writes New York Times columnist David Carr. For example, the much praised and much publicized Homicide Watch—a reporting effort begun two years ago by Laura and Chris Amico, a husband and wife journalist team who created a database to track every murder case in their hometown of Washington, D.C.—has not been able to score foundation money. Meanwhile, the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times recently received $500,000 and $1 million respectively from the Ford Foundation to beef up their reporting. “Shouldn’t financing meant for journalistic innovation go to the green shoots like Homicide Watch and not be used to fertilize giant dead-tree media?” Carr asks.

Paul Carttar, the first director of the federal government’s new $45 million Social Innovation Fund launched in April 2010, will quit in coming weeks, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Carttar is “considering a number of options” after leaving CNCS but does not yet have firm job plans, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. Carttar will be replaced by Idara Nickelson, CNCS’s chief investment officer. The Social Innovation Fund is supposed to give grants to nonprofits to help them expand effective social programs.

 

GOLDMAN SACHS WATCH

 

German lender DZ Bank AG is suing Goldman Sachs Group for fraud in connection with $189 million in mortgage-backed securities, Bloomberg.com reports. DZ Bank claims in documents filed in New York State Supreme Court that Goldman materially misrepresented loans that were bundled into the securities. Two other lenders in Germany, IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG and Bayerische Landesbank, also filed suit against Goldman over losses on the same bonds.

Under its 10,000 Small Businesses program Goldman Sachs and the Goldman Sachs Foundation gave a little over $337 million in 2011, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The program is “delivered through partnerships between local community colleges, business schools, Community Development Financial Institutions, and leading nonprofit organizations,” according to the company. The $337 million figure represents 2.6 percent of the company’s 2010 pretax profits. Goldman Sachs matches as much as $20,000 in annual giving per employee. About $19 million of the company’s cash-giving consists of matched gifts made by its employees. Of the companies surveyed by the Chronicle, only Wal-Mart gave more in 2011. It donated 4.1 percent of its 2010 pretax profits in 2011.

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