Big donations up

Here are week’s top nonprofit stories:

* The 60 biggest donors in the U.S. made donations and pledges totaling $5.9 billion in 2003, up from $4.6 billion in 2002, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported in its Feb. 19 issue. Bequests by those donors grew 50 percent to $2.7 billion in 2003, while pledges fell by more than half to $959.6 million.

* California Attorney General Bill Lockyer proposed legislation that would limit gifts to celebrities for making appearances at charitable events, create new nonprofit audit requirements and increase nonprofit boards’ control over fundraising campaigns and executive compensation, the Associated Press reported Feb. 12.

* The Federal Trade Commission issued a new publication that advises consumers about potential charity scams and steps donors should take before making donations to charities.

* The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave $82.9 million to the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation in Bethesda, Md., for new tests of potential vaccines against tuberculosis, which kills 1.6 million people worldwide each year, the Washington Post reported Feb. 13.

* United Way of New York City is teaming with the San Francisco-based Taproot Foundation on a new program that will match nonprofits with business professionals who want to volunteer, especially in areas of marketing, design and technology, Crain’s New York Business reported Feb. 16.

* Over 30 nonprofits in Florida made loans to their officers and directors, a practice banned in the state and 18 others, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Feb. 13. Though the practice is not illegal in some parts of the U.S., many nonprofit experts believe all charities should adopt a new rule in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that bans for-profit companies from making loans to officers and directors.

* The Daniels Fund, the largest foundation in the Rocky Mountains, is fighting internally over accusations of questionable governance and a new aggressive cost-cutting plan that aims to eliminate offices in New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, and lay off 22 people, or one-third of its grant-making staff, The New York Times reported Feb. 14.

* While scandals involving for-profit executives make the news, many nonprofit executives are committing the same questionable acts but are staying under the radar, Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, says in an opinion column Feb. 11 in USA Today. Turley says corporate governance laws should extend to large nonprofits.

— Compiled by Jennifer Whytock

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