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Making headlines – Week of 03.19.07

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* The board of the National Association of Evangelicals rejected demands by conservative Christian leaders that the group silence or fire its Washington policy director, the Rev. Richard Cizik, the New York Times reported Mar. 14.  Conservatives, including James C. Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, say Cizik is using the global-warming controversy to shift the national focus away from “the great moral issues of our time,” which they define as abortion, homosexuality and teaching children sexual morality.

* The New World Symphony will receive $90 million from an anonymous donor, one of the largest gifts ever to a classical music institution, to help fund its future Miami Beach home designed by Frank Gehry, the New York Times reported March 9. The professional-level ensemble, which trains young conservatory graduates, has raised all but $35 million of the projected $200 million total price tag.

* Princeton University has reimbursed the Robertson Foundation $782,375 in response to accusations of misspending from the donors’ children, the Wall Street Journal reported Mar. 13 [subscription only]. The Robertson children sued Princeton, claiming the $35 million endowment given to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1961, now worth $800 million, has been used for purposes other than those intended.

* Movie producer and Stanford University donor Steve Bing has rescinded a $2.5 million gift to the school, and is asking others to follow suit, in protest to a public-relations campaign by ExxonMobil that touts its $100 million in funding to Stanford for climate and energy research, the Mercury News reported Mar. 11. Bing, whose family has donated millions to the school and whose father chaired its board, says cancellation of the ad campaign would assure the public the school is “not for sale.”

* Nonprofits increasingly are paying corporate-level salaries, the Wall Street Journal reported Mar. 9. Executive-placement firms have noted an increase of 25 percent to 50 percent in salaries of nonprofit executives since 2000, with a number of positions paying over $200,000, a figure at least $50,000 higher than five years ago.

* Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim, the world’s third-richest man, “poked fun” at the philanthropy of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, saying that business, not donations, is the answer to poverty, the Associated Press reported Mar. 13. Latin American billionaires do not have a record of charitable giving comparable to Buffett or Gates, and Slim, who recently announced a new foundation for health care and research worth $450 million, only a fraction of his nearly $49 billion fortune, says he has no interest in competing.

* Wealthy philanthropists increasingly are opting to pay for outside advice from donor consulting firms or expanded philanthropic offerings from financial-service groups, the Wall Street Journal reported Mar. 9 [subscription only]. In a market where both philanthropic dollars and eager charity recipients are increasing, these advisors identify and vet potential beneficiaries and sometimes measure the impacts of contributions.

* Reality show “American Idol” will use celebrity power to do good, enlisting Gwen Stefani, Josh Groban, Sascha Baron Cohen and others in its charity special “Idol Gives Back,” which aims to raise awareness and funds for American and African youth poverty-relief organizations through two special episodes April 24 and 25, Reuters reported Mar. 9. Fox is uniting with the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund and corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola and AT&T to funnel the donations to organizations including UNICEF, the Global Fund, Save the Children, Nothing but Nets, and Malaria No More.

* Judicial Watch, a conservative organization investigating government corruption, filed a complaint with the Senate Committee on Ethics against U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, alleging that from 2003 to 2005, the Democrat failed to report his position with the Evan and Susan Bayh Foundation, the Associated Press reported Mar. 8. Bayh’s spokeswoman says the omission was an oversight, and filings were corrected after the mistake was brought to Bayh’s attention by USA Today.

* Relatives of Essie Mae Washington Williams, the African-American daughter of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, are founding a Los Angeles nonprofit to help urban families, the Los Angeles Times reported Mar. 12. The EMW Resource Center will provide health education, among other services.

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