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Value of gifts probed

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[05.06.04]

Here are the week’s top nonprofit stories:

* Spurred by the half-price sale to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra of rare stringed instruments valued at $50 million, U.S. Senate investigators are studying whether the deal is part of a fast-growing tax dodge in which wealthy donors inflate the value of gifts with the help of unquestioning appraisers, weak tax regulators and cultural groups that do not want to rock the boat, The New York Times reported May 2.

* Bush administration housing officials are changing the government’s main housing program for poor Americans, changes that a research group estimates could leave the program hundreds of millions of dollars short in the current fiscal year, The New York Times reported May 4.

* Saying it could hurt debate on campus, major universities are challenging anti-terrorism language the Ford and Rockefeller foundations have included in their standard grant agreements to prevent grant money from benefiting terrorist groups or sympathizers, The Wall Street Journal reported May 4.

* A survey found Scots rate Diana, Princess of Wales, as the greatest humanitarian hero of the past 60 years, The Herald is Glasgow reported May 3.

* In its $200 million initiative to prevent AIDS in India, its biggest grant program in any single country, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is taking the unusual approach of backing a chain of clinics in the country’s hardest-hit states to promote safe sex to prostitutes and the truckers who are their main clients, The Wall Street Journal reported May 3.

* Half of people providing foster care in Britain receive no income for their work, says a survey by the Fostering Network.

* The National Council of Social Services in Singapore is cracking down on the way the 300 charities it oversees raise and spend money, The Straits Times reported May 4.

* A $91 million budget gap is prompting charity hospitals in Louisiana to close surgery units, emergency room beds, family practice clinics and other services, the Associated Press reported May 4.

* The National Council for Voluntary Organizations will work with the National Audit Office to assess government progress in helping British charities deliver public services, The Guardian reported May 5.

* A new survey says pay for personnel directors at British charities lags average pay across sectors, HR Gateway reported May 4.

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