Nonprofit news roundup – Week of 10.22.07

* A Pittsburg NPR affiliate has stopped airing underwriting messages from Planned Parenthood and returned a $5,000 donation from the organization at the request of its license holder, Duquesne University, the New York Times reported Oct. 17. The University said Planned Parenthood’s support was at odds with its Catholic identity, but the action has raised renewed concern about the objectivity of WDUQ 90.5 FM’s news content and seems to be costing the station in its current fall pledge drive.

* Food banks nationwide are suffering from a steady decline in federal aid, a development that stalled finance legislation could remedy, the New York Times reported Oct. 18. Cities such as New York have been left with little over half the emergency food stores they had three years ago, according to a recent study by Cornell University and Food Bank for New York City, even as the number of residents relying on such aid increased to 1.3 million from 1 million.

* Habitat for Humanity International has severed ties with 12 of its more than 1,600 affiliates in a contentious move the organization is justifying as a reaction to satellite groups’ failure to communicate and, especially, to tithe, The New York Times reported Oct. 11. Habitat, based in Americus, Ga., is attempting to centralize its traditionally grassroots organization, but disaffiliated affiliates and even the organization’s founder Millard Fuller, who disaffiliated himself in 2005 after clashes with the board, have instead traced the communication difficulties to central headquarters.

* ‘Museum elephantiasis,’ or the seemingly unfettered epidemic of new expansion projects being launched in art meccas around the globe, may be sounding the death knell of the classic museum experience, the Washington Post reported Oct. 7. The Post spoke with four prominent art professionals about the potential downsides of such unrestrained growth, which can distract boards and administrations from cleverly curated shows in the name of crowd-crunching and flashy blockbuster exhibits.

* The University of Virginia may change the face of financing for public universities as it makes progress toward the record fundraising goal it set for itself in 2004 of raising $3 billion by 2011, the Washington Post reported Oct. 10. Already halfway to the target, the school has seen a 500 percent increase in philanthropic funds since1990, and state appropriations now compose only 9 percent of its total budget.

* Former U.S. presidential candidate Al Gore will donate to charity part of the money he will receive from sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in helping to build and spread public knowledge about global climate change, the New York Times reported Oct. 13. Gore said he would give part of the $1.5 million he will receive to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a nonprofit he founded last year.

* Former President Clinton’s voluntary vow to disclose donors to his William J. Clinton Foundation should his wife be elected, a gesture of retroactive compliance with a bill Sen. Clinton is sponsoring to shed light on presidential library fundraising, comes too late to reassure voters, says an Oct. 4 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. An Oct. 11 editorial went even further in detailing the shared donors between Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her husband’s foundation, expanding speculation about the transparency of his financial activity to the consulting jobs and more than $41 million in speaker’s fees the former president has accrued since leaving office.

* The New Rices for Africa, crop-resistant seeds, are still sown by only 200,000 African farmers on 5 percent of the lands where they would potentially grow, even as foundations such as Rockefeller and Bill and Melinda Gates are ratcheting up efforts to bring the Green Revolution to the continent, the New York Times reported Oct. 10. Poor seed distribution and farmer education, bad roads and no storage, insufficient investment and corruption all are factors plaguing the movement, which is similar to one that in India, when united with the country’s more developed infrastructure in the1960s and 70s, practically demolished hunger.

* The Community Revitalization Fund has launched a $25 million effort to replace affordable housing complexes and mixed-use developments in post-Katrina New Orleans, reported Oct. 15. Lead by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and six others who have already contributed a total of $11.25 million, the fund will consider proposals from nonprofit, for-profit and government agencies alike.     

* The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office has filed suit against Quaker charity The American Friends Service Committee for allegedly misspending $8 million of the bequest of late philanthropist Dr. Leo Eloesser, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Oct. 8. Eloesser, famed for his progressive political activism and friendships with the likes of Frida Kahlo and Pablo Casals, had intended for the majority of his fortune to go to loans for medical students.

* After coming under public fire for his involvement in a no-work deal, the U.S. Air Force’s second-ranking procurement officer, Charles D. Riechers, was found dead in his home in an apparent suicide, The Washington Post reported Oct. 16. Riechers had received $26,788 for a 2-month stint as an employee of the Commonwealth Research Institute, a nonprofit intelligence firm, while awaiting confirmation to a Pentagon post, though he said he did no work for the firm.

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