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Senate panel eyes charity reforms

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Here are the top nonprofit stories reported elsewhere:

* Senate Finance Committee members are working on a package of charitable-sector reforms to further regulate groups now under vague and limited oversight, although it not clear which provisions will make it into a final pension-reform conference report, Tax Analysts reported July 25.

* The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced it will funnel $287 million into creating an international network of scientists to share research and findings on creating an AIDS vaccine over the next five years, The New York Times reported July 20.

* Many nonprofit hospitals are showing robust bottom lines, prompting the IRS to ask what the organizations are doing to earn their nonprofit status, and causing some states to require nonprofit hospitals to pay some taxes, The Miami Herald reported July 23.

* A large portion of the goods left with Salvation Army stores, Goodwill shops and other charity thrift shops are not reusable because donors often assume goods will be laundered or repaired before being resold, the Star Tribune reported July 24.

* The Lilly Endowment will diversify its assets by selling $2 billion in Eli Lilly and Co. stock over the next few years, a move some experts interpret as a sign of lost confidence in the stock, which has lost almost half its value since 2000, The Indianapolis Star reported July 22.

* Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and his relatives run a Type III supporting organization, a type of charity named by the IRS as a “Dirty Dozen” tax scam, and a particular foundation that, until recently, gave very little money to charity, the Washington Post reported July 21. Type III supporting organizations are under scrutiny by the Senate Finance Committee.

* With much of the burden for supporting charitable institutions in Germany resting on the government, a trend has emerged in recent years for the nonprofit sector to look to society at large for support of its institutions, particularly academic groups, Newsweek International reported July 31.

* A controversial purchase of 30 rare string instruments for $17 million by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has scared away donors and left the orchestra with $12 million in debt for the instruments themselves and an accumulated operating deficit of $4.2 million, The New York Times reported July 19.

* Many cultural institutions in big cities are courting law students in an effort to cultivate the next generation of donors and patrons, The New York Times reported July 23.

* The United Nations’ estimate of people displaced in the Middle East due to the crisis in Lebanon and Israel was more than 500,000 as of July 20, the Wall Street Journal reported July 21. The following are some humanitarian organizations with relief programs involved in the crisis, as reported in the article:

  • Mercy Corps, Portland, aiding refugees from Southern Lebanon.
  • United Jewish Communities, New York, aiding Israelis, especially children, through a special crisis fund.
  • Save the Children, distributing household items and medicine to people in Gaza and temporary shelters to people in Lebanon.
  • American Near East Refugee Aid, providing aid in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon.
  • UNICEF, providing drugs and other emergency supplies to hospitals and health centers in Gaza and the West Bank.

— Compiled by Leslie Williams.

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