Philanthropy Notes: August 2014

The unaccomplished Chelsea Clinton earns an amazing $75,000 per speaking engagement, according to the Huffington Post. The former First Daughter’s spokesman says she donates all her speaking fees to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. So far so good, right? Not exactly. Critics object that Chelsea’s mother is now using the foundation as a de facto campaign organization in advance of her likely 2016 presidential run, so Chelsea’s donations are akin to campaign contributions. Critics also say Hillary, who likewise claims she donates her huge speaking fees—averaging $200,000 per speech—to the foundation, is using the philanthropy as a holding ground for her potential presidential campaign staff, according to the Daily Mail (UK). So far Mrs. Clinton has refused to back up her claim she donates the fees with actual documentation, as requested by ABC News.

The Alliance for Charitable Reform, a group of nonprofits that defends philanthropic freedom, applauded the House of Representatives’s passage of two provisions in July that the group has long championed. The first measure streamlines the private foundation excise tax into a flat 1 percent rate; the second gives donors until April 15 to make charitable donations that can be deducted in the previous year. The measures will now move to the Senate.

Buoyed by a rising stock market and big donations, community foundations’ total assets shot up to a record $66 billion last year, from $58 billion in 2012, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. Donations to community foundations rose by $600 million to $7.5 billion, while grant making climbed by $400 million to $4.9 billion, according to the report released by CF Insights and the Council on Foundations. The data were gleaned from survey responses by 285 community funds that account for more than 90 percent of assets estimated to be held by community foundations. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation had the most assets of all philanthropies examined ($4.7 billion), followed by Tulsa Community Foundation ($3.9 billion), and New York Community Trust ($2.4 billion).

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, under fire in Congress over the Lois Lerner-led IRS crackdown on conservative nonprofits, says the recently introduced three-page 1023-EZ form for small groups seeking nonprofit status will help the agency process a large backlog of charitable applications estimated at 66,000. The form can be used by groups seeking 501(c)(3) status instead of the standard 26-page form that requires a raft of supporting documentation. Liberals are horrified. Tim Delaney, president of the Council of Nonprofits, said the new form will make getting charity status too easy and could allow groups with no real charitable objectives to get past IRS gatekeepers. Marcus Owens, former head of the IRS nonprofits office, said the new form will cause “dark money”—political spending via 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups—to “begin to flow into the (c)(3) world.”

Ford Foundation vice president Marta L. Tellado, who started her career working for so-called consumer advocate Ralph Nader, will become the head of the nonprofit media company Consumer Reports in the fall. Tellado currently runs the global communications office for Ford. At her new post she will succeed James A. Guest, who is retiring.

 

GOLDMAN SACHS WATCH

A full panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied a former Goldman Sachs director’s petition for a rehearing of his insider trading case. Convicted in 2012 of securities fraud and conspiring to share corporate secrets, 65 year old Rajat Gupta reported to a minimum security prison in Massachusetts in June, and there he will stay for the rest of his two-year prison term.

The earnings of Goldman Sachs Group climbed in the second quarter of this year, defying pessimistic predictions. The company’s investment banking and investing and lending units helped boost second quarter earnings to $2.04 billion, up from $1.93 billion the year before.

 

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