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Nonprofit news roundup for Feb. 28, 2008

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Giving circles gain popularity

Giving circles, informal charitable groups that pool their resources to help local causes, have more than doubled in number since 2004, USAToday reported Feb. 27. The 400 groups nationwide have raised more than $100 million for a variety of causes, making them a valuable resources in times of economic downturn.

Humane society criticized in meat fiasco

The Humane Society of the United States is fielding criticism on Capitol Hill for waiting several months to release an undercover video of abused cattle, The New York Times reported Feb. 27. The video sparked criticism of meat-industry inspection procedures when the Humane Society released it in late January, after growing frustrated with slow investigation by California prosecutors.

Stony Brook gets record gift

Hedge fund manager James H. Simons is giving Stony Brook University $60 million, the largest gift ever made to any New York public university, The New York Times reported Feb. 27. Simons, who used to teach math at the university, and his wife, Marilyn, who earned her doctorate there, have given the school $100 million in total.

MA charities lose battle over will

Four Massachusetts charities have lost a suit over stockbroker Leonard R. Brener’s $8 million estate, The Boston Globe reported Feb. 27. Brener, who had planned to bequeath the money to the Perkins School for the Blind, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Maimonides School and the Carroll Center for the Blind, changed his will just before his death to benefit a couple who cared for him in his illness.

British aid agency attacked in Pakistan

Three aid workers died when gunmen stormed British nonprofit Plan International in Mansehra, Pakistan, The Guardian reported Feb. 26. Some fear renewed violence against foreign organizations.

Aid worker in Afghanistan believed dead

An American aid worker and her driver who were abducted in Afghanistan are believed dead, Reuters reported Feb. 27. Cyd Mizell was an employee of the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation and one of only a handful of Western aid workers living in Kandahar.

Catholics asked to stop Komen donations

The Catholic diocese in Arkansas is asking members not to donate to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation because it supports Planned Parenthood, reported Dioceses in Charleston, S.C., and Phoenix have also taken issue with the foundation, which says that less than 1 percent of the money it designated for community education and screening in 2007 went to Planned Parenthood.

Gates CEO a tough job to fill

The resignation of the CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Patty Stonesifer, coincides with the foundation’s growing public image difficulties, The Wall Street Journal reported in a blog Feb. 26. The foundation’s sheer size will make finding a successor “the executive-recruitment job of the year.”

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