Nonprofit news roundup – Week of 06.11.07

* The newly public donor list for the September 11 memorial and museum includes many of New York’s biggest banks, developers, politicians and philanthropists, the Associated Press reported June 1. Over $300 million of the $700 million needed already has been raised by the fundraising drive headed by billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who himself pledged $15 million.

* Heinz Endowments President Maxwell King plans to retire next spring, leaving a seven-member nominating committee headed by board chair Teresa Heinz to choose a replacement, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported June 5. The Pittsburgh charity has $1.4 billion in assets and awards an average of $60 million in grants to arts, economic development, and children and family-oriented programs annually.

* The Combined Federal Campaign, the largest U.S. workplace charity drive, may face donor confusion and even a decline in donations due to a change in contribution coding, the Washington Post reported May 31. The campaign, which allows federal employees to direct payroll deductions to one of 22,000 nonprofits, is rushing to replace four-digit funding codes, of which there are too few for the fast-growing numbers of participating nonprofits, with 5-digit codes before June 30.

* The Big Donor Show, a Dutch reality TV series in which a terminally ill woman was to choose one of three contestants to receive her kidney, revealed itself as a hoax in the final minutes of its first broadcast, Reuters reported June 2. Producers at Dutch public broadcaster BNN said the show, which sparked controversy worldwide, was intended only to raise awareness about organ donor shortages and will provide no revenue to the TV station.

* The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $105 million to create the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, United Press International reported June 4. The university also will contribute $20 million, which when combined with the Gates grant, will launch and operate the institution for 10 years.

* Two nonprofits say a home down-payment-assistance program funded by nonprofits should tighten its oversight rather than closing, as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed, reported May 31. AmeriDream and Nehemiah Corp. support the program, which allows nonprofits to fund a buyer’s downpayment and be reimbursed by the seller, an arrangement that circumvents U.S. rules prohibiting direct assistance from sellers and has funded over 100,000 homes per year since 1997.

* U.S. mail carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns collected a total of over 70 million pounds of food for local food banks and shelters in last month’s annual “Stamp Out Hunger” charity drive, up slightly from last year, the Associated Press reported June 4.

* Facebook, a social-networking site geared towards young people, hopes to make online grassroots activism a part of its newest web plan, the San Francisco Chronicle reported May 25. Through the pilot version of “Project Agape,” users can highlight their favorite political and social causes and, with the official launch scheduled for the end of June, organizers hope these endeavors will grow into large-scale youth activism.

* Experts say social-enterprise efforts, in which nonprofits use business ventures to create their own revenues, are rarely self-sustaining and can detract from an organization’s social mission, The Wall Street Journal reported June 1.

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