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Nonprofit news roundup – Week of 06.04.07

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* The IRS may be overlooking terrorist links to tax-exempt groups, according to a recent report by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Associated Press reported May 27. IRS officials reported screening tax filings only for “Middle Eastern-sounding names,” and then manually checking these against a limited terrorist watch list, the article says.

* Tribune Co.’s second-largest shareholder, the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation, plans to sell back its entire 11.6 percent stake in the publishing and broadcast company, the Chicago Tribune reported May 25. Tribune’s $34-a-share buyback offer, which extends to a new employee stock ownership plan, is part of a bid by Chicago investor Sam Zell to take the company private.

* Humanitarian aid agency Oxfam is demanding that rich nations pay the bulk of what it estimates to be a $50-billion-a-year global warming bill they have been largely responsible for creating, Reuters reported May 29. Released barely 10 days before a crucial Group of Eight summit, this call to action may make already thorny negotiations with countries such as the U.S. even tougher.

* Socially responsible investment funds are on the rise in areas that affect the average American most intimately — retirement plans and college-savings funds, The Wall Street Journal reported May 29 [subscription only]. While socially responsible investments still account for a relatively small portion of retirement-plan assets, investment groups like Vanguard Group Inc., TIAA-CREF and Neuberger Berman Funds note significant growth in socially-minded clients, who demand investments in companies screened for everything from poor pollution records to religious agendas.

* China will encourage growth of foreign and domestic non-governmental organizations through key policy changes, including a simplified registration process, better communication with local governments, and a reward system for high-performing organizations, China Daily reported May 25. Currently there are no legal provisions for foreign charities operating in China.

* Neuroscientists are discovering that some aspects of morality and charitable generosity are hard-wired into the most basic of brain functions, raising new questions about what it means to be good, the Washington Post reported May 28.

* Campbell Soup Co. heiress Dorrance H. Hamilton has matched her own gift to Philadelphia-based University of the Arts, offering a second $25 million to supplement the first she gave in November, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported May 25. Her patronage has helped the university’s endowment, which was only $17 million in July, cross the $75 million mark.

* A recent study conducted by PNC Wealth Management found that only three in 10 wealthy Americans with estate-planning documents hold their heirs to specific requirements in order to receive their inheritance, though more than six in 10 believe “each generation should take responsibility for creating its own wealth,” the Financial Times reported May 29 [subscription only].

* Retired hedge-fund manager and atheist Robert W. Wilson has given $22.5 million to the Catholic Archdiocese of New York’s Cardinal’s Scholarship Program for needy inner-city students, and neither party has cited religious differences as an obstacle, Bloomberg.com reported May 23. The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranks Wilson as the 12th-most-generous American donor. He hopes to give away more than 70 percent of his more than $500 million fortune before he dies.

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