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Gates Foundation sticks to investment policy

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

* Despite Los Angeles Times articles saying investments by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are counter to its charitable missions, the foundation does not plan to change its practices, the Times reported Jan. 14. The Times articles said the foundation invests in companies that contribute to human suffering.

* Fourteen members of an advisory board to the Atlanta-based Carter Center resigned in protest of former President Jimmy Carter’s controversial book, “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid,” citing its “malicious advocacy” and “strident and uncompromising position,” The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 11. The 200-member board includes community and business leaders.

* U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will give almost all his estimated $800 million fortune to charity, the Financial News reported Jan 15. The long-time supporter of environmental groups last March bequeathed $100 million of Goldman Sachs stock to his own environmental charity, the Bobolink Foundation.

* The impending breakup of Altria Group, one of the nation’s largest corporate givers, highlights the dangers to small nonprofits of relying too heavily on a few big donors, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 12. While Altria’s corporate revamping will not reduce its overall giving, the company will redirect funding from smaller arts nonprofits in favor of bigger names.

* Some of the world’s largest private-equity firms are launching a pan-European charitable foundation, called the Private Equity Foundation, to aid the underprivileged, The Sunday Times reported Jan. 14. The eight founders, who the Times says aim to combat criticism of excessive industry salaries, include KKR, Blackstone, Texas Pacific Group, Bain Capital and Permira.

* The Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, traditional leaders in charitable giving, are fighting the marginalizing shadow of philanthropic giant the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation by streamlining compartmentalized programs and increasing collaboration in hopes of achieving greater impact, The New York Times reported Jan. 14.

* The International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement has introduced a third symbol, a red crystal, whose ratification in July 2006 facilitated Israel’s entrance into the group after a decades-long rift over religious symbolism, Reuters reported Jan. 14.

* Effective Jan. 1, the Internal Revenue Service now requires official financial documentation of all charitable donations, increasing the paper burden on organizations that depend heavily on anonymous cash gifts, Religion News Service reported Jan. 8.

* Dell Inc. plans to offset the energy its products consume by launching  the “Plant a Tree for Me” program that asks customers to donate $2 to $6 for each computer they purchase to plant a tree, The New York Times reported Jan. 9.  Funds collected will be donated to the Conservation Fund and the Carbonfund, which will buy and plant the trees.

* Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., recused himself from the Justice Department budget process pending an investigation into whether he benefited by directing federal funds to nonprofits he helped start, the Associated Press reported Jan. 10.

Compiled by Elizabeth Floyd

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