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Philanthropy New York Currents December 2009


Dear Members,

The nation has had a tough economic year and we anticipate that the challenges will continue into 2010. In spite of these difficulties, or perhaps because of them, the philanthropic sector has responded with perseverance, strategic planning, generosity, and a ton of hard work. As you gear up for next year, it is good to remember that you do so as part of a larger community. We are, we hope, a key component of that community. We also hope that one of your New Year's resolutions will be to join us as often as possible for our programs, committees, networks, and events.

Here's one small way you can play a leadership role with us, and give a gift to your community of peers. As you know, Philanthropy New York sponsors well over 100 programs throughout the year—professional development workshops, talks by thought leaders, members briefings, and panel discussions. These programs are among our most popular offerings. Well, now you can get a two-fer that benefits other members of Philanthropy New York. If your foundation sponsors a speaker for an event that is not open to all foundations, please ask us if we could use your speaker for a similar event the same day or right  before or after your own event. Members did this a few times this past year, and we have had some great events as a result. That's a gift we can all appreciate!

We wish you, your families, your colleagues, and all of our communities much happiness and joy this holiday season and throughout the new year. Thank you for all that you do.

Best Regards,


Bone Marrow Donor Urgently Sought for Jennifer Jones Austin of United Way

Jennifer Jones Austin—a 41-year-old mother of two young children, and the Senior Vice President for Community Investment at United Way of New York City—has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Her husband Shawn reports that Austin's chances of surviving are slim unless she can undergo a bone marrow transplant in the next few months. Screening sessions and at-home screening kits are being used to identify potential donors. The screening process is a simple swab to the inside of the cheek, and the donation process is as simple as giving blood. The donor gives blood from an arm; a machine separates the blood-forming cells and returns the blood to the donor through the other arm. Some donor screening sessions have been held, and others are upcoming. Potential donors can register with Be The Match by going online to By using the promotional code JJA1068, an at-home testing kit will be provided without charge.

Philanthropy New York Offers New Pension Plan for Members

At the behest of affiliate members and staff, Philanthropy New York's Board of Directors has approved a new pension plan provider, American Funds. The plan was chosen based on its past performance and pricing, and is available for purchase by individuals at any Philanthropy New York member organization. This plan is in addition to the plan still available to members from Diversified Investment Advisors. For more information on the American Funds plan, please contact the plan's broker, John Cunningham of Thesco Retirement Planning Services. His email is cunninghamj at thesco dot com, and his phone number is 212-603-0284.

New York State Amends Public Accountancy Law; Retired CPAs May Still Serve on Nonprofit Boards

New York State has amended its public accountancy law, which has implications for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Public Accountants (PAs). Some were concerned that the amended law might have an impact on retired CPAs serving on nonprofit boards. However, an interpretation of the law says that retired CPAs may serve on nonprofit boards so long as they do not provide attest or compilation services. More detail on this interpretation is available here, from the regulatory agency, the New York State Department of Education, Office of Professions.

Paul Rapoport Foundation Announces Grant Guidelines for Final Spend-Down

In 2009, due to the major economic turndown of the preceding year, the Paul Rapoport Foundation announced it would seek to maximize its impact on and for the LGTB community by spending down all of its assets by 2014. The Foundation's overarching commitment is to racial and economic equality in the LGTB community. After conducting a needs assessment, the Foundation has decided to focus on three populations of low or no income: (1) transgender communities of color; (2) LGTBQ youth of color, ages 24 and under; and (3) LGTB seniors of color aged 60 and over. Complete funding guidelines are available here.

The Atlantic Philanthropies Launches New Online-Only Annual Report

The Atlantic Philanthropies has issued its 2008 annual report, and it's the first one to be released entirely online. The report features a video introduction, grantee reports, and financial information, all with an intuitive user interface. The report is available here.

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance Eases Standards on Fundraising

The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance has announced that it will allow nonprofit organizations more latitude in how much money they spend on fundraising and program activities, according to a story in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The article, by Holly Hall, says that the move was prompted by the Alliance's recognition of the severe impact the recession has had on charities. Whereas previously the watchdog agency required charities that meet its standards spend at least 65 percent on programs and no more than 35 percent on fundraising expenses, now those numbers have been shifted to 55 percent and 45 percent, respectively, for the fiscal years ending in 2008 through June 2010.

New York State Health Foundation Announces Special Projects Fund RFP

The New York State Health Foundation has a broad mission to improve the health of New York State residents. Most of the Foundation's grantmaking is focused on expanding health insurance coverage, improving the management and prevention of diabetes, and encouraging the integration of substance use and mental health services. The Foundation has just announced an RFP for its Special Projects Fund, for projects that fall outside these areas but that respond to the organization's mission. For more information, visit the Foundation's website.


  • Two of the films in the Philanthropy New York documentary film series have been shortlisted for Academy Award consideration in the feature-length documentary film category: Food, Inc. was screened last month, and The Cove will be screened in April 2010. The final list of nominees will be announced on February 2, 2010, and the Academy Awards ceremony takes place on Sunday, March 7th. Every Philanthropy New York film screening includes a wine-and-cheese reception and a Q&A with the film's director. These events are free, and open to all members of Philanthropy New York and their guests. To register for any of the films in the monthly series, click here.
  • Erica Hunt, President of the Twenty-First Century Foundation, has been included on the Ebony Magazine Power 150 list, which highlights "The Most Influential Black Americans." The issue came out on December 1st. The mission of the Twenty-First Century Foundation is "to lead, innovate, and influence giving for Black community change."
  • Several Philanthropy New York members figure on the list of the world's "25 Best Givers" named by Barron's magazine. In an introduction, the magazine said that the listing was developed in collaboration with the consulting firm Global Philanthropy Group, and focused not on the biggest givers but on the most high-impact, "those who are getting the results." Among those on the list are Philanthropy New York members Jennifer and Peter Buffett of the NoVo Foundation, Helen Hunt of the Sister Fund, and George Soros from the Open Society Institute.
  • Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania and a trustee of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, was named by President Obama to chair the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Commenting on the appointment, Carnegie Corporation President Vartan Gregorian said that Dr. Gutmann's "leadership of this panel will be uniquely enriched by her rigorous intellect, her years of experience, and her concern for the welfare of humanity both today and tomorrow." More information is available on the Carnegie Corporation's website.


(View a full text, PDF version of Philanthropy New York Currents, December 2009.)

A Closer Look at Our Website

  • New Membership Roster Available
    Members who visit the Member Directory can access the complete membership roster in PDF format, current as of this fall. One roster lists member organizations, and another roster lists individual members and their organizational affiliation. Information on the rosters appears only to members who have logged on to the Philanthropy New York website.

Announcements & Transitions

  • Member Transitions, December 2009
    New appointments at the Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Members in the News & Resources

  • Fund-raising galas give way to personal appeals
    Source: The Boston Globe, December 6, 2009
    This article on the new fundraising strategies of Jewish nonprofits in the wake of the Madoff scandal includes a quote from Charles Bronfman, Chairman of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies.
  • Ford Foundation to Assist Public Benefit Programs
    Source: The New York Times, December 2, 2009
    The Ford Foundation has committed $80 million to strengthen public programs and policies aimed at helping the unemployed and low-wage workers. The foundation's Director of Quality Employment, Helen Neuborne, was quoted in the story.
  • Answers About Community Philanthropy
    Source: The New York Times, November 18-20, 2009
    Lorie A. Slutsky, President of The New York Community Trust, answered readers' questions on community philanthropy and the value of many different approaches to charitable giving.

    Part I: November 18th
    Part II: November 19th
    Part III: November 20th
  • Are Metrics Blinding Our Perception?
    Source: The New York Times, November 20, 2009
    This article on the so-called current "Age of Metrics" quotes Antony Bugg-Levine, a Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • A Case Study in Collaboration: How Community Resource Exchange and The Staten Island Foundation Partnered to Support Nonprofits Under Pressure
    Published by The Staten Island Foundation and Community Resource Exchange, December 2009
    PDF, 436 KB

    Concerned about how its grantee organizations might weather the economic storm, The Staten Island Foundation contacted Community Resource Exchange to facilitate a "Town Hall" forum for the grantees. The participants shared perspectives, strategies, and tactics on how their organizations and clients were coping with the recession. The forum and small group discussions led not only to a new spirit of collaboration among the participating organizations, but also sparked a series of leadership training sessions for the benefit of all the nonprofits.