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Wealthy children learn to give back

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

* Private bankers at Citigroup and a growing number of Wall Street financial advisers are developing strategies, including volunteer programs, charitable-giving vehicles and family constitutions, to help children of wealthy families develop a strong moral compass while contributing to the greater good and lowering their taxes, The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 29.

* With the Democrats in control of Congress, nonprofits expect the federal government to loosen its newly-tightened regulation of the sector’s financial practices and governance, the Chicago Tribune reported Nov. 16. Other than limiting lobbyists’ improper use of nonprofits, new Democratic leaders on the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee are not expected to purse an activist agenda on the nonprofit regulation, experts say.

* To protect themselves from incidents in which donors back out of pledged gifts, nonprofits are making it harder to renege by asking for legally-binding gift agreements and keeping in contact with donors to remind them of payment deadlines, The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 24. However, requiring binding contracts is risky, nonprofits say, because it could put off potential contributors.

* Some nonprofit experts are calling on the government to create a new federal agency within the Department of Commerce to support and regulate nonprofit organizations, the Federal Times reported Nov. 24. Currently, the IRS is the leading agency in charge of nonprofits, by way of the tax code, but proponents of the idea say the growing sector needs its own agency.

* President Bush hopes to raise $500 million to build a library and think-tank, which Bush insiders have dubbed the Institute for Democracy, at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, New York Daily News reported Nov. 27. The goal is double the amount Bush raised for his 2004 reelection campaign and is significantly higher than funding for past presidential libraries, officials say.

* Supporting its goal of ending homeless in 10 years, Baltimore has installed “Make a Change” meters, refurbished parking meters with a pointer on the dial that slowly shifts from “despair” to “hope,” to encourage residents to donate nickels, dimes and quarters, The Baltimore Sun reported Nov. 15. The money raised from the Downtown Partnership initiative, the first of its kind, will support programs run by Baltimore Homeless Services.

* In an attempt to end hunger rather than feed the hungry, food banks across the U.S. are training low-income students in the basics of cooking, with the goal of finding jobs for their graduates, The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 28. Last year, of the 1,000 students in 30 chef-training classes associated with America’s Second Harvest food banks, 775 graduated and seven in 10 found a job within one month, the charity says.

* The American Family Association, a conservative group that has called for a boycott of Wal-Mart because of the retailer’s support of gay-rights groups, withdrew its objections after Wal-Mart said in a statement that it would stay away from funding controversial causes, The Washington Post reported Nov. 21. Wal-Mart, which added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination code this year and is now offering some domestic-partner benefits, is ranked in the middle among companies rated for workplace policies towards homosexuals by the gay-rights group Human Rights Campaign.

* Only one in 10 Americans strongly believes charities use their funds “honestly and ethically,” says a new poll by Harris Interactive, MSNBC reported Nov. 21. American individuals and households gave $199 billion to nonprofit organizations last year, but a majority says the philanthropic system is disorganized, under-regulated and tainted by scandal, recent surveys say.

* While the number of Canadians who donate to charity remained relatively stable this year, increasing by only 0.9 percent, total donations reached a record $7.9 billion, a 13.8 percent increase from last year, according to Statistics Canada data, The Toronto Globe and Mail reported Nov. 24.

— Compiled by Laura Newman

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