Philanthropy Notes: January 2014

President Obama’s nominee to run the Internal Revenue Service told senators that if he is confirmed he will probe the failure of nonprofit groups to disclose fully the circumstances of multimillion-dollar losses that result from financial wrongdoing.  John Koskinen cited a Washington Post report that identified over 1,000 nonprofits that disclosed “significant diversions” of their assets in tax filings in recent years; often, the groups failed to report the precise amount or critical details.  Such reports “provide important insights into areas that may have gone unnoticed or have been overlooked,” he said.  Koskinen served as a director and chairman of the executive committee of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation from 2008-2012 and was non-executive chairman of Freddie Mac from 2008 to 2011, and president of the U.S. Soccer Foundation from 2004 to 2008.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation has decided to focus its grantmaking almost exclusively on reducing income inequality and combating climate change, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.  The foundation’s board approved the new approach to giving at the behest of leftist CEO Simon Greer.  “In the next 20 years, the United States will go through a huge transformation in demographics, the environment, our economy, and in religion,” Greer says.  “Can we get people to agree on what we know to be true and then create the future of America?” asked the political extremist who used to work as a community organizer.  The foundation was profiled in last month’s Foundation Watch.

Radical actress Jane Fonda’s charity has failed to make any grants since 2006, the New York Daily News reports.  The Jane Fonda Foundation’s most recent donation was a $1,000 gift in 2006 to a medical organization in Atlanta.  The philanthropy had assets of $798,133 in 2011.  Foundations that fail to give away at least 5 percent of their assets each year face IRS penalties.  Fonda’s attorney, Barry Hirsch, claims the foundation wasn’t required to make donations from 2006 to 2010 because it donated “a ton of money” in 2005.


A Manhattan judge sentenced former Goldman Sachs trader Matthew Taylor to nine months in prison for his role in concealing an unauthorized $8.3 billion trade at the bank.  The Commodity Futures Trading Commission had accused Taylor in 2012 of covering up the transaction to safeguard a $1.5 million year-end bonus he received.  Prosecutors say Taylor’s secret deal cost Goldman $118 million, a figure he has been ordered to pay back to the bank as restitution.

International Financing Review (IFR) has named Goldman Sachs “Bank of the Year” for 2013 because of “its ability to build market share in the face of a tough economic and regulatory landscape,” according to a Reuters news report.  Although Goldman has become what IFR called a “lightning rod” for the public backlash against the financial services industry, the bank still managed to deliver “truly impressive” market-share gains.  “In the IFR awards year, Goldman’s share of mergers and acquisitions stood at 39.5 percent in the U.S. and 36 percent in Europe,” Reuters reports.  “It ranked first in equity capital markets globally, with market share up to 11.3 percent from 8.4 percent.”

Goldman’s longest-serving employee, Alfred Feld, with more than eight decades of service, died at the age of 98.  In recent years Feld continued to work but came in to the office infrequently.  Feld began work at the bank in 1933 in the mail department and earned $624 annually.  By 1936 he had become a research analyst and 12 years later he became a stock broker.

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