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Nonprofit connects Murtha, lobbyists

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

* A nonprofit formed in 2001 by a former aide of Democratic U.S. Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania functions as a gathering point for defense contractors and lobbyists with business before Murtha’s defense appropriations subcommittee, the Washington Post reported Dec. 25.

* Some academics and lawmakers, arguing that the multibillion-dollar building boom by college football hurts schools’ educational mission, are taking aim at tax laws that treat payments for luxury seating and naming rights as charitable gifts, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 27.

* Huge fundraising campaigns by schools like New York University increasingly are driven not only by appeals from university presidents but by ever-growing development teams supported by outside consultants and marketers who hunt for every graduate with money and use software that helps search databases that include details on people’s wealth, The New York Times reported Dec. 25.

* Hank Greenberg and three men who helped him build American International Group have created the Switzerland-based Starr International Foundation, which could become one of the world’s biggest philanthropies, with a possible endowment of $20 billion, the Financial Times reported Dec. 22.

* Since 2000, courts have cited over a dozen programs for unconstitutional use of taxpayer dollars to fund religious activities or evangelism directed at inmates, recovering addicts, job seekers, teens and children, The New York Times reported Dec. 10.

* A foundation being created by Sheldon G. Adelson, a casino and resort mogul, has pledged to give over $200 million a year to Jewish causes, Haaretz.com reported Dec. 12.

* Nonprofit managers say people increasingly are making donations in the names of relatives, co-workers and clients, The New York Times reported Dec. 21.

* Business donations of a broad range of products are growing, and companies are finding that giving to a cause spreads goodwill in and outside the office, the Chicago Tribune reported Dec. 25.

* The Case Foundation at casefoundation.org is offering a “guide to charitable gifts, the brainchild of Jean Case, whose husband, Steve, founded America Online, The New York Times reported Dec. 20.

* Actress Jada Pinkett Smith has given $1 million to the Baltimore School for the Arts, asking its new theater be dedicated to classmate Tupac Shakur, the rapper who was shot and killed in 1996, the Associated Press reported Dec. 12.

* Arthur Brooks, a Syracuse University professor, says his research has found over 90 percent of Americans who regularly attend a house of worship give to charity, compared to 66 percent of secular Americans, and that religious people give an average of $2,210 a year, compared to $642 among secular Americans, Cybercast News Service reported Dec. 19.

* A survey by the Fraser Institute finds the average value of charitable giving in Canada, based on income-tax returns, is $1,214, compared to $4,021 in the U.S., Advisor.ca reported Dec. 21.

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