Goals soar for university fundraising

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

* Fourteen years after Stanford University completed the first billion-dollar fundraising drive in U.S. higher education, 22 universities are engaged in drives to raise $1 billion or more, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, with the University of Virginia set to announce a $3 billion drive, New York University in a $2.5 billion drive and Columbia University planning the largest drive ever, a seven-year effort to raise $4 billion, The New York Times reported May 21.

* A federal judge ruled against the Bush administration, rejecting its authority to require nonprofit AIDS groups to sign a pledge opposing prostitution and sex trafficking in order to receive federal funding, the Associated Press reported May 18.

* The American Civil Liberties Union is considering new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing internal policies and administration, a move that has “shocked” some former board members, The New York Times reported May 24.

* The Washington D.C., affiliate of United Way is facing allegations of wrongdoing from its former chief financial officer, Kim Tran, who resigned in March, citing the organization’s exaggeration of fundraising totals, the Washington Post reported May 22.

* The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which declared stock holdings worth $3.8 billion during the first quarter of 2006, purchased shares of Viacom Inc. and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. in the same period, according to a government filing, Bloomberg reported May 16. The foundation, which funds health care in many developing nations, also sold $23.1 million in shares of the India Fund, a group that invests 80 percent of its assets in companies based in India.

* Participation and confidence in the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of sex-abuse allegations have rebounded to pre-scandal levels, although satisfaction with higher-level clergy, and donations to their fundraising efforts, remain lower than before news of the scandal broke in 2002, The New York Times reported May 18.

* Former President Bill Clinton has signed a deal with Alfred A. Knopf, publisher of his 2004 memoir, to write a book about activism and public service, with an expected release in late 2007 or early 2008, The New York Times reported May 18.

* Environmental watch groups and corporations that once locked horns over policy are increasingly willing to collaborate on development of environmentally-sound practices, in some cases staying ahead of government regulation, The New York Times reported May 17.

* Descendents of Josephine Louise Newcomb, whose 1886 donation endowed the women’s college at Tulane University, filed suit against the school over its decision to close the women’s college, claiming the action ignores donor intent, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans reported May 18.

* The Supreme Court denied review of a case challenging telemarketing restrictions that apply to professional fundraisers hired by charities, a suit in which the National Federation of the Blind and Special Olympics Maryland claim FTC regulations infringe on their free speech rights, the Baltimore Sun reported May 16.

* Two years after the Ford Foundation adopted new language in its grant-agreement letter to preclude recipients from supporting “violence, terrorism, bigotry or the destruction of any state,” bodies such as major universities and the ACLU are still critical of the foundation’s policy, which they say limits the free-speech rights the foundation works to support, The Nation reported in its June 5 issue. In recent months, the Rockefeller Foundation reversed similar language in its grant provisions, turning away from pressure that the article claims resulted from a post-September 11 Presidential Executive Order that allows the government to freeze the assets of any foundation or charity that supports “terrorist” organizations.

— Compiled by Leslie Williams

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