According to national media, the Shriners aren't as well endowed as they used to be.
Headlines are announcing that the Shriners are closing their Galveston burns hospital after it was damaged by Hurricane IKE as well as possibly closing five other hospitals, including those in:
* Erie, Pennsylvania
* Spokane, Washington
* Greenville, South Carolina
* Springfield, Massachusetts
* Shreveport, Louisiana
The Galveston County Daily News has reported that:
"A huge financial loss within the Shriners endowment due to turmoil within the financial markets prompted the organization's CEO (Ralph Semb) to order the (Galveston) hospital to cease operations indefinitely even after promising the hospital would reopen after the storm."
Other headlines read:
"Shriners Prepare to Close Some of Their Children's Hospitals Because of Financial Problems"
This New York Times headline ran on Sunday, July 6, 2003 and reported that the Shriners' endowment lost $2 billion, or a quarter of its value, over the previous three years.
So, just what is an endowment?
"Definition: A fund that is made up of gifts and bequests that are subject to a requirement that the principal be maintained intact and invested to create a source of income for an organization. Donors may set up an endowment to fund a specific interest; and a non profit's governing body may set up an endowment. In any case, an endowment requires that the principal remain intact in perpetuity, or for a defined period of time or until sufficient assets have been accumulated to achieve a designated purpose."
According to a recent ModernHealthCare.com article: