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Tsunami fundraising soars

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Here are the week’s top nonprofit stories:

* American charities have raised more than $597 million for tsunami relief efforts, much of that online, eclipsing the $350 million pledged by the U.S. government, with the American Red Cross raising $236.2 million, followed by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF with $68 million, and Catholic Relief Services with $51.1 million, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported Jan. 20.

* Oxfam issued a report analyzing the first month of tsunami relief efforts that praises the response of donors but cautions that inexperienced, untrained international aid workers may be causing problems, including sanitation problems due to overly dense housing construction, and should be accredited by governments in the region, BBC News reported Jan. 26.

* The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $750 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, matching its initial gift made in 1999 to start the organization to provide vaccines for children in poor countries, the New York Times reported Jan. 25.  The gift is part of one the biggest philanthropic undertakings ever, the Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 27.

* The Salvation Army reported its annual kettle drive raised $95.3 million, up from $93 million the previous year. The fundraising effort exceeded expectations lowered after Target dropped a waiver that had allowed the charity to solicit at its stores despite the chain’s no-soliciting policy.

* Working groups of the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector, set up by Independent Sector at the request of the Senate Finance Committee, have submitted recommendations to the panel on topics covering transparency and financial management, oversight and enforcement, governance and self-regulation, and issues facing small organizations, Tax Analysts reported Jan. 25.

* University endowments earned an average of 15.1 percent last year, replacing declines in 2001 and 2002 and a modest gain in 2003, a survey by the National Association of College and University Business Officers says, but have yet to make up for losses incurred over the last five years, when the average return was 3.8 percent, the New York Times reported Jan. 24.

* The ACLU executive committee decided not to discipline two board members for speaking to reporters about disputes over donor data and the group’s agreement to check employee names against terrorist watch lists, lists the ACLU previously criticized, the New York Times reported Jan. 22

* Leonard Pickell Jr., former head of the James Beard Foundation, which supports American food and chefs, pleaded guilty to taking more than $50,000 from the foundation by writing checks to cover personal expenses, and faces five to 15 years in prison, the New York Times reported Jan. 25.

* The Champlin Foundations are providing $17.9 million in grants Rhode Island nonprofits to help them meet fire safety regulations that were strengthened in the wake of the Station nightclub fire in 2003 that killed 100 people, the Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 24.

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