Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Urgent: Rochester hit hard by foundation cutbacks; its community fund got 83% less in 2009 vs. 2008

The Gannett Foundation donated just $1.5 million to the Rochester Area Community Foundation last year, down a whopping 83% from $8.6 million in 2008, newly released public documents show. The cutback came when the foundation's overall giving to non-profit groups such as soup kitchens fell 66%, to $4.1 million. The documents don't explain the sharp declines.

Historically, the Rochester non-profit has received the single-biggest grants from the company's charitable arm. For decades, the city was Gannett's corporate home; the company relocated to Arlington, Va. in 1986. It moved again, to McLean, Va., in 2001. (Company history.)

The big gifts to the upstate New York city have been a form of reparations for the loss of jobs when GCI pulled out of town. The Rochester foundation, like many such community foundations, according to its website, "works to improve the quality of life in the greater Rochester region by evaluating and addressing community issues, promoting responsible philanthropy, and connecting donors to the critical needs of the community."

Established in 1972, the Rochester foundation has more than $165 million in assets, according to its website. Since its founding, the fund has made more than $250 million in grants.

The cutbacks to Rochester came when GCI executives sent $255,000 to their hand-picked non-profit causes -- just 15% less than the $300,000 they directed in 2008, the documents show. Among the executive directed-gifts, Chief Operating Officer Gracia Martore steered $15,000 to her alma mater, Wellesley College near Boston. She was paid $4 million last year, making her GCI's second highest-paid executive after CEO Craig Dubow.

The documents show that employee giving fell as well, but by a smaller rate, according to figures for the popular GannettMatch program. The foundation spent $1.39 million matching employee gifts in 2009, down 20% from $1.74 million in 2008.

The foundation spending is disclosed in its 2009 IRS tax report, completed just three weeks ago. I obtained a copy from the foundation yesterday, after requesting one under federal open records law.

Related: spreadsheet lists 46 executive-led grants


  1. One wonder if Al did not steal what was the original Gannett Foundation, would Rochester have gotten the money they need?

  2. Jim said, "She [Martore] was paid $4 million last year, making her GCI's second highest-paid executive."

    So I take it that Dubow was the highest paid... Wait! He told us in Phoenix last September that he took a 37% cut in pay. Suckers, all of us.

  3. This is shameful. As you noted, Rochester was Gannett's home. Is there nobody in Gannett who will step up for a simple sense of decency? I wonder if there was any warning given to the Rochester foundation about the reduction.
    Reducing these important contibutions at a time of dire need (remember, Rochester also was hit hard with the Kodak's down-sizing) demonstrates that Gannett is devoid of compassion. Compassion, by the way, is one of the leading indicators of long-term success among corporations. Look it up.
    I respectfully ask Gannett board members and leaders to reconsider this decision.

  4. wonder what hunke's role is in this dating back to his rochester era

  5. I'd rather that they cut charitable giving than jobs.


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