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News roundup – Charity-scam alert issued

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Here at the week’s top nonprofit stories:

* The Federal Trade Commission alerted Americans to potential scams seeking donations in the wake of recent fires in California, urged people to ask the charity for its name and the percentage of the donation supporting the cause, suggested they pay by check, not cash or credit.

* The Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia are changing to a public charity so they can raise money from outside sources, lobby legislators and run projects directly, rather than through grant recipients, The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 6.

* The Electronic Data Initiative for Nonprofits launched a new website, EDINonline.org, hosted by Independent Sector, as the IRS prepares to let nonprofits file their Form 990 annual reports online, MyNoodle reported Nov. 4.

* National Public Radio received $200 million, its largest donation ever, from the late Joan Kroc, widow of the founder of McDonald’s, the Washington Post reported Nov. 6.

* A new list of top corporate givers in 2002 includes Wal-Mart Stores, Altria Group, Ford Motor, Exxon Mobile, Target, J.P. Morgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup, Forbes reported Oct. 23.

* An audit report claims Michael Adams, president of the University of Georgia, used donations for personal expenses, misled fundraisers and possibly misappropriated money, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Oct. 30. The audit is causing a battle between the state’s Board of Regents, which supports Adams, and the UGA Foundation, which wants him fired.

* A British parliament member is trying to add to a charity bill a measure to eliminate private schools from charitable tax status, the Guardian Unlimited reported Nov. 5.

* In a recent poll, over half of Scots say they are less likely to give to charity because of two major charity scandals this year, The Herald reported Nov. 3. Andrew Watt of the Institute of Fundraising hopes the fallout from the scandals will shock the nonprofit sector into communicating better and restoring public confidence.

* An association of British charity leaders is creating a leadership center to improve professionalism, discipline and skills in nonprofit leaders in the face of increased public and government scrutiny of the sector, the Guardian Unlimited reported Nov. 6.

* A Boston Globe editorial Nov. 2 says nonprofits should police themselves and promote honorable whistle blowing because the sector’s honest reputation is being tarnished by the greed of a few trustees and staff members.

* Four military relief groups joined with the National Association of Broadcasters to launch a public-service campaign for the Armed Forces Relief Trust, a new nonprofit to help U.S. troops and their families. Last year, the four military groups gave over $109 million in grants and loans to 145,000 people and families in need.

— Compiled by Jennifer Whytock

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