United Way pushes accountability

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

* United Way of America, which received $3.88 billion in gifts in 2004, is asking its 1,350 U.S. affiliates to identify their communities’ biggest problems, target donations to charities focused on those issues and measure outcomes, Forbes reported Jan. 16.

* The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $20 million to the University of Washington to create a department of global health, to be run by the university’s medical school and school of public health, with the goal of improving healthcare and fighting disease in developing countries, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported Jan. 18.

* A recent internal audit of the Salvation Army in Canada uncovered a major fraud by a former employee, says the charity, which did not disclose the employee’s name or the amount of money stolen, CBC News reported Jan. 14.

* An internal audit of the British Disasters and Emergencies Committee, which coordinates fundraising for charities including Oxfam, Save the Children and British Red Cross, says the group has spent only 31 percent of dollars raised for tsunami relief and is over-zealous in seeking publicity, the Edinburgh News reported Jan. 12.

* Newly wealthy people are increasingly adopting a “venture philanthropist” model, investing their charitable donations to affect causes they care about, demanding a say in how the money is spent and requiring evaluation of success, the U.K.-based Times Online reported Jan, 15.

* The Charity Finance Directors’ Group is hosting a conference on the value of information technology for charities Feb. 22 in London, PublicTechnology.net reported Jan. 16, with topics including the business case for IT, and communications and environmental issues related to IT implementation.

* The Law Reform Commission of Ireland published a paper proposing a new legal structure for Irish charities, called the “charitable structure organization,” to allow for improved regulation of nonprofits, the Irish Times reported Jan. 16.

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