Monthly Notes

Philanthropy Notes: June 2014

The 50 biggest donors in the United States gave $7.7-billion to nonprofits last year, with higher education and family foundations receiving the most money, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Heading the list is Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan ($992.2 million). Other notable givers who made the cut include Michael Bloomberg (4th, $452 million), eBay founder Pierre and Pam Omidyar (7th, $225 million), Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojkicki (9th, $219 million), businessman David Koch (24th, $101 million), and radical hedge fund manager George Soros (47th, $40 million).

Several high-profile think tanks have spotty track records on disclosing their funding sources, according to a new study reported on by the New York Times. Organizations such as the Hoover Institution, Center for American Progress, and Center for Strategic and International Studies each received one star out of five in the survey by Transparify, a small nonprofit based in Tbilisi, Georgia, and funded by George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. By contrast, the Brookings Institution and Heritage Foundation, each received four stars because they publicly disclose donors who give more than $5,000. “It’s important that people can have confidence in the integrity of the research, and if you are concealing the sources of funding that is relevant, as people don’t know how your research may be motivated,” said Hans Gutbrod, Transparify’s executive director.

Hans von Spakovsky, one of the nation’s leading experts on elections and election reform, has joined the American Civil Rights Union’s Policy Board. Von Spakovsky is manager of the Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative and a senior legal fellow in Heritage’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. A former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Justice Department, von Spakovsky provided expertise in enforcing the Voting Rights Act and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Tom McDonnell is retiring June 30 as CEO of the Kansas City, Missouri-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. McDonnell, 68, reportedly said the charity needs a leader who can serve five to seven years to see the foundation’s strategic plan through, and he “did not plan on that kind of extended commitment.” He will be replaced by Wendy Guillies, the foundation’s vice president for communications. The foundation reported assets of nearly $1.8 billion at the end 2012, which placed it 56th among U.S. philanthropies by assets, according to



Goldman Sachs has had a rough year so far, according to Nathan Vardi of Forbes magazine.  As of mid-May its stock had fallen 9.4 percent and its fixed income, currency, and commodities trading operations are sputtering.  Regulators are restricting the investment bank’s risk-taking bets.  To make matters worse, Anthony Noto, one of the Goldman’s star employees, is quitting to move to Coatue Management, a successful hedge fund that invests in technology concerns.  “Noto was the man fueling Goldman Sachs’ resurgence in technology-sector investment banking,” writes Vardi.  Noto was in charge of Goldman’s global telecommunications, media and technology investment banking group, and led the huge $2.1 billion Twitter initial public offering last year.

Matthew Vadum

The author of Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers (WND Books, 2011), Vadum, former senior vice president at CRC, writes and speaks widely…
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