Nonprofit news roundup for March 11, 2008

Celebrities, giving gimmicks and metrics: N.Y. Times philanthropy report

Does celebrity philanthropy produce real results? Do fundraising gimmicks actually work? What makes a self-made philanthropist? Can you really measure good? The New York Times asked these questions and more in its special report on philanthropy March 9.

Church politicking catches IRS eye

Complaints of church politicking have been picking up as incidents such as a speech by U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama at a church conference last June, and his home pastor’s enthusiastic promotion of his campaign, are triggering investigations by the Internal Revenue Service, The Wall Street Journal reported March 10 [subscription only]. Tax-exempt organizations like churches face restrictions on political activism, though the IRS has only twice revoked a church’s tax-exempt status for violations since 1954.

Community colleges join hunt for private funds

California community colleges are joining the hunt for private donations that used to be the exclusive territory of the state’s four-year colleges, The San Francisco Chronicle reported March 10. Community colleges that have “dabbled in fundraising” for years are now hiring professional staff and courting alumni, as their enrollments outpace state funding.

Private funds benefit Naval Academy

The U.S. Naval Academy has been fundraising from private sources for only a little over a decade, but the effort has brought in more than $253 million to fund faculty chairs, admission outreach programs and football stadium renovations, The Associated Press reported March 9. Admiral Charles Larson says the private fundraising doesn’t “let the government off the hook,” but only augments federal funds.

NIH funding freeze chills scientists

A new report says flat funding at the National Institute of Health is forcing many scientists to postpone or scale back their work, The Boston Globe reported March 10. Scientists at top universities say that the funding cap, which hasn’t changed with inflation for the past five years, amounts to a funding decrease.

Arkansas Catholics apologize to Komen

The leader of the Roman Catholic diocese in Little Rock, Ark., has apologized to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation for alleging that donations to the group fund abortions, The Associated Press reported March 7. Monsignor J. Gaston Hebert had asked Arkansas Catholics to avoid donating to the national breast cancer group.

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