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Google creates for-profit philanthropy

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

* The founders of Google have broken with tradition, setting up a for-profit philanthropy, Google.org, initially giving it $1 billion to tackle poverty, disease and global warming, The New York Times reported Sept. 14. In return for paying taxes, the new entity will be more flexible, the founders believe, since it will be able to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and lobby Congress.

* The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation will donate $100 million and $50 million respectively to a program in Africa that aims to increase access to seeds that produce higher crop yields, The New York Times reported Sept. 13. The program mirrors the “Green Revolution” program the Rockefeller Foundation launched in the 1940s in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

* A Senate Finance Committee investigation found that nonprofit hospitals, which make up more than 3,000 of the nation’s 4,900 hospitals, are regularly denying care or overcharging their poorest patients, The Washington Post reported Sept. 13. The findings raise questions about whether these hospitals should remain eligible for tax exemptions, investigators say.

* A federal tax provision approved last month may harm top art museums’ ability to acquire new artwork by discouraging fractional or partial giving, an increasingly popular practice in which collectors donate a percentage interest of their art work, allow the museum access to that art for a portion of the year and receive a tax break of an equivalent percentage, The New York Times reported Sept. 13. Most works that start as fractional gifts become full donations and are often the most valuable pieces, museum directors say.

* Prominent conservative research groups recently have supported Wal-Mart stores through opinion pieces in a variety of national newspapers, but the groups have “consistently failed to disclose” that their financing comes from the Walton Family Foundation, which is run by the three children of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, The New York Times reported Sept. 8. The groups say the foundation’s donations have no influence over their research.

* George Soros, the philanthropist who primarily has donated to programs fostering democracy, announced a $50 million donation supporting a program that aims to help African villages escape poverty through a wide variety of efforts, including boosting crop yields and supporting literacy classrooms and health clinics, The New York Times reported Sept. 13.

* Graduate students at N.C. State University now can take a class taught by a manager from IBM, part of a growing trend in which major corporations increase their on-campus presence by teaching courses that focus on scientific and business concepts not otherwise taught, The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 12.

* After discovering her fiancé had been cheating on her, Kyle Paxman transformed the planned wedding reception into a charity benefit celebrating strong women by inviting 125 women, only some of whom had been on the original guest list, and encouraging them to donate to two charities she had chosen, the Vermont Children’s Aid Society and CARE USA, The New York Times reported Sept. 8.

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