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Nonprofit news roundup for March 26, 2008

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Modern do-gooders seen as ‘social entrepreneurs’

“Thoroughly modern do-gooders” dress like venture capitalists, have fancy educations and elite business résumés, and call themselves social entrepreneurs, David Brooks said in a column in The New York Times March 21. Having abandoned big government’s alphabet-soup agencies, groups like America Forward are combating scalability issues with proposals for a new domestic policy based on locally-administered, semipublic funds.

Girl Scouts rebrands to beat ‘non-joiners’

Faced with a mounting epidemic of “non-joiners,” the Girl Scouts are modernizing their image with new uniforms, a chief marketing officer, updated programming and a streamlined structure, The Wall Street Journal reported March 25. The youth organization, which has been losing 1 percent to 2 percent of its members annually for the past 10 years, is looking to attract traditionally underrepresented groups like Asians and Hispanics.

Afghan charities call aid ‘wasteful, ineffective’

Kabul-based charities are calling aid efforts in Afghanistan largely “wasteful and ineffective,” The Financial Times reported March 25. As much as 40 percent of funds funneled into the country, which relies on international handouts for more than 90 percent of its public spending, are returned to donor countries as corporate profits and consultants’ salaries.

Microfinance goes private

The field of microfinance is expanding to individual lenders, with a growing number of private banks advising the rich on micro-loan investments, The Wall Street Journal reported March 20. The reliability of micro-borrowers is particularly attractive in a landscape populated by high-credit risks.

Mexico was fertile soil for Carlos Slim

Mexico has been the land of opportunity for billionaire businessman Carlos Slim, a self-made philanthropist misunderstood by Mexicans and Americans alike, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Brinkley-Rogers said in a column in La Voz March 12. Slim, listed by Forbes as the world’s third-richest man in 2007, plans to donate more than $10 billion in the next four years.

Good estate plan includes children

Children should be included in wealth-management discussions from an early age, Ian Driscoll said in a column in The Financial Times March 25. Many families begin to talk about money through philanthropy, whether by creating a family foundation or giving their kids small sums to distribute to charity.

L.A. ‘top five’ discuss arts scene

Los Angeles’ top five cultural barons said in a group interview at The Los Angeles Times March 23 that they were attracted by the city’s as yet unformalized cultural identity. These L.A. cultural industry leaders, among them Placido Domingo, discussed the importance of educational programming, Hollywood’s role in arts patronage, and the complexity of “local” programming in a global city.

British charities lose funds for lobbying

British charities will no longer be allowed to lobby the government with its own funds, thanks to new grantmaking criteria at a Department for International Development fund, The Guardian reported March 19. Ed Miliband, minister for the Cabinet Office, last month told nonprofits that their funding was not dependent on their agreement to toe the government line.

British online fundraiser generates over $500M

At a time when most British nonprofits face falling donations, online fundraiser justgiving.com has channeled more than 250 million British pounds, over $500 million, into the sector since its 2001 launch, The Guardian reported March 25. The website has spread the appeal of charitable giving to younger generations with viral marketing techniques and sophisticated technology.

Barnes Foundation move still challenged

Dissenters are still challenging the relocation of the Barnes Foundation’s $6 billion art collection from Lower Merion Township, Pa. to Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported March 25. A judge approved the foundation’s move in December 2004, breaking with legal arrangements made by donor Albert Barnes before his death in 1951.

European Union rethinks food aid

The European Union is rethinking its food-aid scheme for the “Old World’s” poor, now that radical policy changes have depleted the regions vast food store, Reuters reported March 19. The commission is taking reorganization suggestions online through May for a makeover of its current system, in which national charities distribute regional surpluses to the needy.

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