Philanthropy Notes: October 2015

More than 2,000 nonprofits, businesses, associations, and other organizations signed a letter last month asking Congress to approve expired and expiring tax provisions known as “tax extenders,” the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. Independent Sector, Feeding America, and the Land Trust Alliance, among others, urged Congress “to act immediately on a seamless, multiyear or permanent extension” of the tax-related provisions. “Tax breaks designed to encourage food donations to food banks, land donation for conservation, and charitable gifts from individual retirement accounts are part of the more than 50 temporary tax provisions that expire annually,” the newspaper reports. “Another provision would simplify the excise tax on private foundations to 1 percent on net investment income.” Failing to renew the tax provisions would lead to a tax increase and “inject instability and uncertainty into the economy and weaken confidence in the employment marketplace,” according to the letter.

Tennis star and charter school booster Andre Agassi has started a new private-equity real-estate fund that wants to generate $400 million from high net worth investors to underwrite dozens of new charter schools across the nation, the Wall Street Journal reports. This is the second charter school financing plan that Agassi has created with Bobby Turner, who created the social-impact investment firm Turner Impact Capital. The first plan, which was rolled out four years ago, has helped develop 50 schools in Philadelphia, Detroit, and elsewhere. The new fund has already raised upwards of $150 million in commitments, the newspaper reports.

The Association of American Medical Colleges says medical colleges raised 7.8 percent more in 2014 than in 2013, according to its annual survey of members, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. In 2014, institutions raked in $59.8 million in gifts on average compared to the previous year, when they took in $55.4 million on average. Donations to public medical colleges rose from an average of $38.5 million to $41.1 million, while those to private colleges increased from $79.9 million to $84.5 million. The association says 139 of its 158 member medical institutions participated in its 2014 survey. The higher level of donations to medical colleges mirrors rising donations to higher education. “In 2014, charitable contributions to colleges and universities climbed 10.8 percent to $37.45 billion, according to the Voluntary Support of Education survey published annually by the Council for Aid to Education,” the newspaper reports.

 

GOLDMAN SACHS WATCH

Although Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has been bullish on the People’s Republic of China for years, he told the Wall Street Journal last month that the country’s leaders have been dealing with market forces in an amateurish way. Blankfein said it was a “ham-handed way they dealt with the collapse,” a reference to government intervention when the country’s stock market plummeted twice in recent months. “They don’t have a lot of experience at this market stuff.” As recently as July, Blankfein had argued that China represented a good investment opportunity.

Blankfein also took shots at billionaire Donald Trump, who at press time was leading in polls for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination. “I can find fault with some of the things that seem wacky to me that he says,” Blankfein said. “It’s hard to imagine his finger on the button. That blows my mind.” Blankfein added he is a Democrat. Trump is popular among hedge fund managers, but he has vowed to raise taxes on hedge funds. “They’re paying nothing and it’s ridiculous. I want to save the middle class,” Trump said in August. “The hedge fund guys didn’t build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.”

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