Charity crackdown on tap

Here are the week’s top nonprofit stories:

* Legislators in Massachusetts, California and New York are considering several charity bills that would require nonprofit executives to certify their financial statements, create audit committees and better control compensation, The New York Times reported March 21.

* Self-described nonpartisan charity groups are trying to register thousands of new voters for this year’s elections, and while most of the groups are allied with Democratic causes, some aim to register conservative Christian voters, the Hill reported March 17. Contributions to these 501(c)3 charities do not need to be reported to federal agencies and are tax-deductible.

* Billionaire George Soros says he will give certain groups, known as 527s or “soft-money” fundraisers, whatever money is needed to elect a Democratic president, the Boston Globe reported March 22. Contributors are restricted from making unlimited donations to candidates or political parties, but not to 527 groups, although the Federal Election Commission may issue tighter rules in May.

* The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami stopped funding a program at Yale University that let journalists attend its law school for free to better understand legal issues and earn a masters of studies degree, the Associated Press reported March 21.

* The Walton family, founders of Wal-Mart, have given over $700 million to education charities since 1998, and have become top funders of education reform, including controversial issues like charter schools and school vouchers, USA Today reported March 11.

* McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc was unconventional in the way she gave billions of dollars to charity, the Washington Post reported March 14. She never read fundraising pitches, never gave to those who asked, set up a foundation but quickly shut it down, secretly gave money to people she ran into and never made a fuss or fan-fare about her donations, the Post said.

* The British Charity Commission will begin listing the names of over one million board members of charities in England and Wales, the first time the information has been available on the Internet, reported March 18.

— Compiled by Jennifer Whytock

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