The fall of US financial services firm Lehman Brothers is likely to send out shockwaves which will be felt in parts of the non-profit, as well as the commercial, sector. Through the Lehman Brothers Foundation, the company supported more than 200 non-profits a year. One of those, DonorsChoose, a non-profit that enables individuals to fund projects proposed by New York City public school teachers, was awarded $500,000 by the Foundation in each of the last three years and Lehman had pledged the same sum for 2009. Other New York City beneficiaries include City Harvest, the Fund for Public Schools, and the Robin Hood Foundation. The full force of the blow to these and other recipients may be somewhat delayed, however. Without a parent company to sustain it, the company’s foundation will have to shut down eventually, but not necessarily right away. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors CEO Melissa Berman points out that ‘if a foundation has a very generous endowment, it can sustain itself for another five years’.
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