Nonprofit news roundup – Week 12.17.07

* To maximize holiday giving, donors should incorporate philanthropy into their regular financial planning, consider the benefits of donor-advised funds and direct donations of appreciated stock, and plan individual retirement account rollovers before the new year brings a new law, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 10 [subscription only]. A separate article offers concrete giving ideas by highlighting five Asian nonprofits leading the shift “from checkbook philanthropy to engaged social investment.”

* In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and multiple nonprofit corruption scandals, givers this holiday season should focus on “substantive accountability” and not merely the traditional efficiency ratios and administrative expenditure analyses, says Rick Cohen, national correspondent for Nonprofit Quarterly, in a guest opinion column for The Boston Globe. Cohen says holiday philanthropists should support locally governed organizations that have traded analysis for action and whose missions lie in social change and building democracy.

* A report on philanthropy published Dec. 10 by The Wall Street Journal [subscription only] analyzes new trends in the charitable sector: Program-related investing is on the rise and the increasing involvement of corporate entities is speeding and streamlining philanthropy. The report also stresses why donors should drive greater transparency in the nonprofit sector and highlights online resources for grantee evaluation.

* The Financial Times published a special report on global philanthropy Dec. 10, noting recent trends, including the growth of “open-source” online solutions that work in the nonprofit sector and the emergence of branding typically associated wit the private sector.  The report also highlights nonprofit business strategies and complaints about holding Bill and Melinda Gates accountable.

* Megachurches across the U.S. are taking an interest in business, investing in everything from shopping centers and residential developments to basketball schools and limousine services, The New York Times reported Nov. 23. Many church-owned enterprises face complicated tax returns and complaints from secular competitors, and while most say their growing slices of community economies are receptive to other faiths, they just as openly admit it’s a great platform for evangelism.

* Judges are turning into grant administrators as the practice of donating unclaimed settlements from class-action suits to an alma mater or favorite charity gradually takes hold, The New York Times reported Nov. 26. With windfalls sometimes in the millions, many jurisdictions are beginning to require that a percentage of leftover settlements go to charity, and many groups have started lobbying to get their share.

* Strategic philanthropy, once the exclusive domain of corporate foundations, increasingly is being invoked by individual donors, The Financial Times reported Dec. 1. Eager not simply to leave a legacy, but to affect change with a specific goal in mind, many of these new philanthropists have earned their wealth the entrepreneurial “hard-nosed” way and expect to adhere to the same tough business principles when giving it away.

* The graffiti of the philanthropic class is getting carried away, tagging “every nook and cranny” of public arts and culture institutions with donor names, revealing a zeal that seems to have relegated anonymous giving largely to the past, The New York Times reported Dec. 2. Yet some philanthropists are bucking the trend; the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business recently raised $85 million from a group hoping to ensure the school’s name will remain donor-free for at least the next two decades.

* Richard S. Ziesler, private investor and low-profile collector of art, bequeathed more than 110 masterpieces by 20th century icons including Miró, Magritte, and Tanguy to museums, The New York Times reported Dec. 7. Valued at about $100 million, the works supplement the collections of 16 different institutions, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum, the National Gallery of Art and the Museum of Modern Art.

* Many luxury tour operators are now offering philanthropic-themed vacation packages in places like Kenya, Cambodia and Vietnam, The New York Times reported Dec. 9. Travelers visit local schools, hospitals and wildlife centers while living in luxury accommodations.

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