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New Katrina charities fading

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

* About 400 charities founded after Hurricane Katrina were granted tax exemptions through the I.R.S.’s fast-track approval process, but many are struggling or have already disappeared, The New York Times reported March 13. The rush to provide disaster relief led to an excess of nonprofits, a development that diverted support from experienced organizations, critics say.

* Catholic Charities of Boston, one of Massachusetts’ leading adoption agencies, announced it will end its adoption work, which began in 1903, rather than comply with state antidiscrimination laws requiring the agency to allow gays to adopt, The Boston Globe reported March 11.

* A newspaper investigation found telemarketers in Orange County, Calif., kept $77 million of the $83 million they raised for charities helping disabled firefighters, veterans and children, the Associated Press reported March 12. The telemarketers were former associates of Mitch Gold, who was sentenced to prison for fraud in a related case 4 years ago.

* The California Supreme Court unanimously rejected a July 2004 appeals court decision that would have required that nonprofits practicing law to be solely composed of lawyers and that poor people constitute at least 70 percent of their clients, The San Francisco Chronicle reported March 10.

* A new insurance service, Givesure, was launched in Britain to give money to one of four supporting charities each time a policy is bought or renewed, The Sunday Times reported March 12. Givesure will not do its own underwriting, but is backed by a broker who will search the market for the best quote.

* Divers Alert Network, a nonprofit organization concerned with the safety and health of scuba divers, continues to fail to meet industry standards, says independent auditor Charity Navigator, the Cyber Diver News Network reported March 11. Critics contend the nonprofit fosters a corrupt corporate culture and wasteful spending, despite firing its former CEO for alleged financial offenses.

* Charity pension funds are more likely to engage in socially responsible investment than their private or public sector counterparts, a new study of British pension funds says, Third Sector reported March 8.

* Charities need to invest in their brands, says a British panel that debated “Not-for-profit branding: cost or investment?”, Third Sector reported March 8. Hesitation to take up branding comes from a misunderstanding of what it involves, the panel concluded.

— Compiled by Laura Newman

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