Drugmaker cuts AIDS-drug prices in poor countries

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

* GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s biggest producer of AIDS drugs, plans to cut the not-for-profit price charged for some of its medicines by 30 percent in poor countries, Reuters reported May 30. The British-based company also signed an eighth voluntary agreement that allows South Africa’s Sonke Pharmaceuticals to make generic copies of some drugs.

* A survey of American consumers found people regard the way a company treats its employees as a better indicator of its commitment to social responsibility than its philanthropic efforts, The New York Times reported May 31.

A rising number of college students, especially in northeastern schools, are signing pledges promising to work at socially-responsible companies after graduation, part of a campaign called the Graduation Pledge Alliance, the Boston Globe reported May 22.

* While many newer foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have followed the example of the Ford Foundation and invested in stock outside their founder corporations, foundations like the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation, with 87 percent of its assets in its parent company, have suffered in recent years as prices fell on shares of their parent companies, Chicago Business reported May 22.

* Most major universities and colleges reported in a survey that only senior administrators and trustees know where endowment money goes, causing some students and donors to appeal for more transparency in the interest of staying true to moral and social ideals, USA Today reported May 29.

* The Newseum, which chronicles the history of journalism, received $52 million in gifts from eight media companies and families with ties to newspapers to finish construction of a new building near the National Mall, the Washington Post reported May 24.

* Actor William Shatner launched a fund with the nonprofit Jewish National Fund to promote and support “therapeutic riding” programs in Israel that help disabled children through horseback riding, a project he hopes will contribute to Middle East peace by bringing Israelis together with Palestinians, Jordanians and Egyptians, the Washington Post reported May 29.

* California real estate mogul and billionaire John Arrillaga donated $100 million to Stanford University to use at its discretion, the San Jose Mercury News reported May 25.

* Korean insurers are increasingly offering “donation insurance policies” that let policyholders donate death benefits to charities, and the number of Korean citizens taking advantage of the offer increased 15-fold from 2001 to 2005, JoongAng Daily reported May 27.

* Britain’s Charity Commission found that more than two-thirds of charities lack complaint procedures, which the commission says are vital to accountability and transparency in organizations, BBC news reported May 23.

* Before stepping down, British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for an increase in the involvement of charities and nonprofits in British life as well as an increase in volunteerism among British citizens, saying he wanted it to become the norm for citizens to contribute a portion of their income to “good causes,” Ananova reported May 22.

* Charity auctions of artists’ works come with drawbacks to artists, who receive a tax deduction only on the materials used, while buyers can typically resell pieces for a profit the artists and charities do not see, The New York Times reported May 28. Many artists admitted to feeling obligated to donate pieces to the auctions, and “somewhat used.”

Compiled by Leslie Williams

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