House OKs nonprofit ‘gag’ provision

Here are the week’s top nonprofit stories reported elsewhere:

* The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that includes a “gag” provision to bar nonprofits that engage in political activity from taking money from the Affordable Housing Fund, OMB Watch reported Oct. 26.

* Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican and chair of the Senate Finance Committee, says Katrina has delayed a legislative package likely to include provisions to spur charitable giving, deter “abuses,” and boost nonprofit governance, and that a first phase of the package is expected this fall and a second phase next year, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 26.

* The tax relief package to aid Katrina victims includes a provision that lets donors who make cash gifts to nearly any charity by year-end deduct an amount equal to nearly 100 percent of their adjusted gross income, double the normal limit of 50 percent of income, The New York Times reported Oct. 27.

* The American Red Cross says responding to Katrina and Rita has drained its Disaster Relief Fund and it must borrow $340 million to cover costs, the first time in its 124 years it has sought a loan for disaster relief, the Washington Post reported Oct. 28.

* The Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to grant $66 million, paid for with donations from foreign governments, to a religious charity to expand services for 100,000 families displaced by Katrina, The New York Times reported 27.

* The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that donations to the 400 biggest U.S. charities grew 11.6 percent last year, the Associated Press reported Oct. 23.

* U.S. humanitarian groups are opposing White House plans to spend one-fourth of the U.S. food-aid budget to buy overseas goods to feed starving people abroad, opposition rooted in the humanitarian groups’ long-standing alliance with American farmers, millers, port operators and shippers paid by the U.S. government to produce food and deliver it to hungry people overseas, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 26.

* Harvard Management Co., which manages Harvard’s $26 billion endowment, has hired a new head but has lost much of its talent, with those remaining left demoralized, the result of a Harvard crackdown on high compensation and investment practices, despite the fact that in his 15-year tenure, the firm’s former head boosted the endowment’s assets from $4.7 billion, making it the largest university endowment in the U.S. and consistently outperforming the market and nearly every other institutional money manager in the U.S., The New York Times reported Oct. 22.

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