- - Sunday, December 18, 2011

CHARITIES

Nonprofits have lean year, expect more of same

SEATTLE — As the first signs of an economic recovery make the news, many of the nation’s nonprofit organizations are digging in for another three to four years of financial distress, according to researchers who keep an eye on the charitable world.

Some larger nonprofits are seeing donations start to rise again, but most report their income is holding steady at lower, post-recession levels or is still going down, according to a new study from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative.

The collaborative found 59 percent of nonprofits report their donation income is flat or lower than in 2010, which was another down year for most charities. Among those that receive some government dollars - long considered a safety net for charitable organizations - more than half are reporting a decline in income for the year.

Forty-one percent of nonprofits have seen their donation income go up in 2011, but most of the nation’s smaller charities with less than $3 million in total spending saw donations drop again this year.

Food pantries and homeless shelters across the country have reported funding crises this year because of an increase in need coupled with a drop in donations.

CONSUMERS

Online yule shopping up 15 percent over 2010

Research firm comScore says U.S. online sales this Christmas shopping season are up 15 percent so far compared with last year.

The Reston-based company says shoppers have spent $30.9 billion online from Nov. 1 through Dec. 16, up from $26.9 billion at the same point last year.

Online sales surpassed $1 billion on four days last week, which comScore expects to be the heaviest week of online shopping this holiday season. Cyber-Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, remains the biggest online shopping day in history, with $1.25 billion in sales.

The company says spending will start to slow as Christmas draws closer.

SEC

Panel files civil charges vs. Fannie, Freddie ex-chiefs

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday brought civil fraud charges against six former top executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying they misled investors about risky subprime loans the mortgage giants held when the housing bubble burst.

Those charged include the agencies’ two former CEOs, Fannie’s Daniel Mudd and Freddie’s Richard Syron. They are the highest-profile individuals to be charged in connection with the 2008 financial crisis.

Mr. Mudd, 53, and Mr. Syron, 68, led the mortgage giants in 2007, when home prices began to collapse. The four other top executives also worked for the companies during that time.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives told the world that their subprime exposure was substantially smaller than it really was,” said Robert Khuzami, SEC’s enforcement director. “These material misstatements occurred during a time of acute investor interest in financial institutions’ exposure to subprime loans, and misled the market about the amount of risk.”

OIL SPILL

BP settles with maker of failed blowout preventer

NEW ORLEANS — Cameron International, maker of the Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer that failed to stop last year’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has agreed to pay $250 million to BP under a legal settlement, BP said Friday.

BP said it was “in their mutual best interests, and the agreement is not an admission of liability by either party.” The companies are dropping all claims against one another, they said.

The settlement comes in advance of a federal trial over the catastrophic Gulf oil spill. The non-jury trial is slated to begin in February and determine fault in the April 20, 2010, explosion and subsequent oil spill off the Louisiana coast of more than 200 million gallons of oil.

Oil and gas analysts said they saw Friday’s settlement as setting the stage for more out-of-court agreements. At this point, Halliburton Corp., which supplied the cement to seal the blown-out well, and Transocean Ltd., the drilling company, have not settled with BP.

The federal government, individual Gulf states and many other plaintiffs also have not settled.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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