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Nonprofit news roundup — Week of 06.18.07

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

*Billionaire bond-fund manager Bill Gross has donated all $9.1 million in proceeds from a stamp auction as an unrestricted gift to Doctors Without Borders, resulting in the largest donation the nonprofit medical aid group ever has received, Bloomberg reported June 12.

* After three years of budget shortfalls and the departure of CEO Bruce S. Gordon in March, the NAACP announced it will cut nearly half its staff in Baltimore and temporarily close seven regional offices, The Baltimore Sun reported June 7 (registration required).  Having used about $10 million in reserve funds, the organization will cut its staff to 70 employees from 119.

* Amid legal conflicts resulting from a financial scandal, the World Jewish Congress elected cosmetics heir Ronald S. Lauder as its next president, The New York Times reported June 11.  Also president of the Jewish National Fund, Lauder hopes to attract a younger generation to World Jewish Congress, which has won billions on behalf of Holocaust victims.

*In response to a $400 million gift to Columbia University, the president of Philander Smith College, Walter M. Kimbrough, is speaking out against so-called philanthropists he says perpetuate educational inequality rather than expand educational opportunity for low-income students, Inside Higher Ed reported June 12.  Donations by rich individuals to wealthy schools like Columbia, which is in the middle of a $1 billion fundraising campaign, merely provide additional support to privileged youth, he says.

* A growing number of entertainment figures are using their financial influence to benefit organizations such as UNICEF and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which in turn have increased donations by the general public, The Washington Post reported June 10.  Drew Barrymore’s lobbying efforts for the UN world food program last month on Capitol Hill and through CNN sharply increased individual donations amounts to the program, the article says.

* A study on charitable giving by two Boston College researchers shows donations by wealthy Massachusetts residents nearly double what similarly wealthy families nationwide donate, while less affluent residents of the state donate much less than their counterparts nationwide, The Boston Globe reported June 10.  The discrepancy likely is due to the high cost of living in Massachusetts, as well as the state’s tax rate, the study says.

* In an attempt to reach new audiences and increase publicity, The Boston Symphony Orchestra is turning to video technology and the internet as the first symphony in the country to broadcast concerts as free online programming, The Boston Globe reported on June 9.  The BSO internet initiative, like internet initiatives by other orchestras, aims to save money by using the Web rather than starting a TV series.

* Brothers and Princeton University alumni James S. McDonnell III and John F. McDonnell joined with the JSM Charitable Trust to give a $30 million gift for the new McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience within the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., reported on June 9.

* As conventions have returned to the New Orleans area, volunteer efforts have also increased, but the flood of helping hands can be difficult to manage effectively, The Wall Street Journal reported June 8 (registration required).  Despite the challenges of placing and caring for those who want to help, Liz Widener, director of volunteers for Beacon of Hope, says she is relucant to turn away those who want to volunteer.

* Microsoft founder Bill Gates, a Harvard University dropout, spoke at the school’s commencement, encouraging students, alumni and faculty to use their talents and technology to fight world hunger and disease, The Boston Globe reported June 8. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which Gates and his wife started in 2000 as an organization devoted to reduce inequities around the world, is the largest charitable foundation in the world and makes grants of more than $1.5 billion each year.

Compiled by Angela Strader

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