Nonprofit news roundup – Week of 02.11.08

* Public broadcasters are scrambling to combat the deepest federal funding cuts ever proposed by the Bush administration, which has unsuccessfully attempted to slash government broadcasting budgets for the past eight years, The New York Times reported Feb. 6. The proposed cuts would eliminate roughly half the $400 million allocated for next year.

* A bill that would require charitable foundations in California to report the gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation of their boards, employees, grantees and contractors is too intrusive, David A. Lehrer and Joe R. Hicks, president and vice president respectively of Community Advocates, Inc., said in an opinion column for The Los Angeles Times Jan. 31. The bill, which has yet to pass the California senate, would create an administrative burden and hamper worthy grantees without improving governance, they say.

* The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is losing its founding chief executive as long-time Gates confidante and former Microsoft executive Patty Stonesifer announces her plans to step down by the end of the year, The New York Times reported Feb. 7. In separate news, the foundation recently named Geoff Lamb, a former World Bank vice president, as managing director of public policy, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 31[subscription only].

* Volunteering is becoming a common corporate benefit, with more companies pushing philanthropy as part of their corporate value system, The Associated Press reported Feb. 5. Companies like Accenture, Google, General Electric Co. and Gap now are allotting employee time for volunteer work and sponsoring company-organized projects.

* Many universities are debating whether to continue accepting money from tobacco companies, but some researchers are protesting the bans, citing academic freedom, The New York Times reported Feb. 4. The movement against tobacco money, which began in Australia in the 1990s, has migrated to the U.S., where 15 public health and medical schools have rejected donations in recent years.

* Art museum curators are seeking the business acumen today’s art world is demanding through programs like the Center for Curatorial Leadership, The New York Times reported Jan. 30. The fellowship program, which aims to make curators better business people, was founded last year with money from Agnes Gund, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, and faculty from the executive education program at Columbia Business School.

* Higher education’s sharp stratification has paralleled a huge jump in the endowments of a select few since the early 1990s, thanks to the handiwork of sophisticated money managers, The New York Times reported Feb. 4. Many of the less-wealthy are struggling to compensate by building competitive endowments and raising tuition, while others continue to criticize what they see as comparatively low spending rates among their wealthier counterparts.

* Microfinance groups such as eBay’s Microplace, and domestic micro-fundraising markets like RealityCharity and Firstgiving, increasingly are “harnessing the power of the everyday investor” instead of seeking larger grants from global lending institutions like the World Bank, says a report in InformationWeek Feb. 2. Yet sites like have become so popular that the glut of donors is overwhelming demand, The New York Times reported Jan 27.

* The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is adding its name to the long list of donors driving Miami’s cultural renaissance with $20 million in grants to three arts institutions and a $20 million contest for projects advancing the arts in South Florida, The New York Times  reported Feb. 7. Over the past 25 years, Miami-Dade County has gone from a “languorous cultural swamp” of barely 100 arts groups to over 1,200 organizations, some very well funded.

* The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation received a $7.3 million bequest from a surprise donor, 88-year-old Helene Whitlock Alley, who died in a house fire in Annapolis, Maryland, last March along with her husband, The Washington Post reported Feb. 7. Alley’s late brother struggled with Type 1 diabetes; the source of her wealth is unclear.

* An alliance of some of the leading global logistics and transportation firms launched at the 2005 World Economic Forum has been a source for corporate collaboration in responding to humanitarian crises worldwide, Alyson Warhurst chair of Strategy and International Development at Britain’s Warwick Business School, says in an opinion column in the Jan. 25 edition of BusinessWeek.

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