Religious funding grows

Here are week’s top nonprofit stories:

* The federal government gave over $1.1 billion in grants to religious groups in 2003 as part of President Bush’s push to help religious groups compete for federal funds, the Washington Post reported March 10.

* Oral Suer, former president of United Way of the National Capital Area, pleaded guilty to stealing over $497,000 and could get up to 27 months in prison, The New York Times reported March 5. The group’s current president said Suer took more money than he had admitted, and should get a longer prison term.

* U.S. Senators Rick Santorum and Joe Lieberman are trying to advance the stalled CARE Act charity bill to allow charitable deductions on non-itemized taxes, bigger deductions for certain scientific property and more federal funding, Tax Analysts reported March 5. The Senate passed the bill in April 2003, and the House passed a different version, H.R. 7, in September 2003, but no one has created a unified bill for another vote.

* In the face of an IRS audit, the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Va., will form an audit committee for ethical, legal and conflict-of-interest issues, appoint an internal audit director and create an 11-member executive committee with certain powers previously held by the entire board, the Washington Post reported March 4.

* Missouri’s attorney general says the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation should improve its conflict of interest provisions and transfer many powers to the board from its chief executive, Carl J. Schramm, who currently can make unilateral decisions about operations and grants, The New York Times reported March 5. Schramm, board members and community leaders are at odds over a recent shift in the foundation’s grantmaking.

* Immigrants living in the U.S. send over $70 billion back to their home countries each year, usually through small-dollar transfers to family members, but increasingly immigrants give money to nonprofit programs that address issues like AIDS education, handicapped assistance and teacher training in their countries, the Washington Post reported March 4.

Connecticut College and several other nonprofits in New London, Conn., are protesting the city’s new plan to tax nonprofits that earn income from side businesses, such as the school’s hockey rink and a hospital’s day-care center, the Associated Press reported March 9.

— Compiled by Jennifer Whytock

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