Nonprofitxpress roundup – Charities buy donor insurance

Compiled by Donnie Stanley

Here are the latest nonprofit headlines:

*Charities are buying life insurance policies for donors but, unlike corporations that buy life coverage for workers, charities pay no income tax and don’t reap the big tax breaks that attract corporate employers to the coverage, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 6. It also reported large firms buy life insurance for directors under plans that let the firms collect tax-free death benefits they donate to charity, sheltering millions of dollars.

*Hoping to stimulate President Bush’s faith-based initiative, the Senate Finance Committee voted to let taxpayers who don’t itemize deductions write off part of their donations, and to allow tax-free gifts from individual retirement accounts, the Associated Press reported Feb. 5.

*A former vice president of finance for the Capital Area United Way in Lansing, Mich. pleaded guilty to embezzling $1.9 million from the group, the largest embezzlement in United Way history, The New York Times reported Feb. 6.

*Charities blame a stalled economy, weak stock market, public distrust of charities and war fears for lower donations in 2002, Associated Press reported Feb. 5.

*New Jersey arts groups may lose $2.1 million in federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts over the next three years if a proposal by the state’s governor takes effect in July, the Daily Record reported Feb. 6.

*The Texas attorney general has warned the public about phone and email scams seeking donations to help families of astronauts killed in the Columbia shuttle tragedy, the Houston Chronicle reported Feb. 7.

*The extent to which charities must disclose data on donor gifts is the focus of a suit by Illinois’ attorney general against a telemarketer that is before the U.S. Supreme Court, The New York Times reported Feb. 2. Independent Sector, the Direct Marketing Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals have filed briefs on behalf of the telemarketer.

*The Graduate School of Education at Harvard University is abandoning plans for a research center on sex and education, citing new university rules on research centers and actress Jane Fonda’s inability to honor her pledge to donate $12.5 million for the center, The New York Times reported Feb. 4. The school is returning part of $6.5 million Fonda already has given.

*Thanks to smart money management, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the only one of the 10 biggest U.S. foundations whose assets grew in the first half of 2002, pays $1.1 billion a year in grants solely from earnings on fixed-income investments, Forbes reported Feb. 4.

*Charities could benefit from a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit stemming from a dispute between record labels and retailers, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 5. Under the proposed settlement, anyone who bought an album between Jan. 1, 1995, and Dec. 22, 2000, could get up to $20, but if so many people filed claims that each payment was less than $5, the entire $67.4 million that record firms and retailers have agreed to pay to settle the suit would be distributed to nonprofits, charities or government agencies. Another $75.7 million in compact discs would be distributed to nonprofits or public entities such as schools or libraries.

 *Faced with a slumping stock market and rising insurance costs, British charities addressing crime or drug abuse may need to reduce activities or work without insurance, the Guardian Unlimited reported Feb. 3.

*Rebounding from its financial woes, United Way Silicon Valley beat its $15 million fundraising goal for 2003 by $1 million, up from $14.6 million it raised a year ago The Mercury News reported Jan. 31.

*Celebrity brokers work to find and hire celebrities to support charitable causes, JTA reported Feb. 3.

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