Reports question Katrina donations

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

* Donations to relief groups in the wake of Hurricane Katrina totaled $4.2 billion, but at least one-fourth of those funds did not go to established nonprofits like the Red Cross and Salvation Army, the Associated Press reported Aug. 24, while a report by Oxfam America says Katrina relief efforts show “gross inequalities” in treatment of rich and poor, Reuters reported Aug. 23.

* A report by the Government Accountability Office says IRS examinations of donor-advised funds show “strong evidence of abusive schemes” involving undue tax benefits, but that the IRS has a tough time cracking down on such abuses because donor-advised funds are not breaking the law even though they do not benefit charities, and the report recommends that Congress enact laws to provide greater details about the financial activities of donor advised funds, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 29.

* While it has a new director, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is seen by some supporters as a low priority in the Bush administration, the Washington Post reported Aug. 25.

* The MacArthur Foundation, which provides dozens of “genius” grants to individuals each year, announced awards of up to $500,000 for nonprofits it said are doing inspirational work, Reuters reported Aug. 24.

* A conservative watchdog group says the judge who ruled President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program was unconstitutional might have a conflict of interest for serving on the board of a foundation that gave money to the American Civil Liberties Union, main plaintiff in the case, the Associated Press reported Aug. 23.

* Online volunteering is growing as access to the Internet improves throughout the world, especially among African and Latin American organizations needing assistance, the Associated Press reported Aug. 23.

* Warren Buffett donated $1.6 billion of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the first major installment in his plan to give $38 billion to the foundation, Reuters reported Aug. 24, but Buffeet says the gift will save him relatively little in income taxes and he expects his estate to pay an eight-digit tax, Newsweek reported Aug. 29.

* A judge scolded two charities fighting over trust money of an heiress of the Eli Lilly and Co. pharmaceutical fortune in a lawsuit claiming a bank reduced the value of their donations because of delayed stock transactions, the Associated Press reported Aug. 24.

* Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing says he will give to charity at least a third of his fortune, estimated by Fortune magazine to total $18.8 billion, the International Herald Tribune reported Aug. 25.

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