Nonprofit news roundup for March 27, 2008

Smaller nonprofits steel for possible dry spell

The nonprofit industry has been largely insulated from recent economic turmoil, but many smaller groups are bracing themselves for a fall, The Boston Globe reported March 26. Nonprofits that lack endowments and depend mostly on middle-class donors may suffer most from the repercussions of the credit crisis and rising prices.

Business finds training ground in nonprofits

Nonprofits are becoming training grounds for business’ next top executives in programs like IBM’s Corporate Service Corps and Columbia Business School’s Senior Executive Program, The New York Times reported March 26. Though it resembles corporate philanthropy, IBM’s program sends employees to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in developing countries for purposes of management development, not charity.

Cigarette money funds cancer study

A breakthrough lung cancer study was funded by cigarette money, The New York Times reported March 26. Claudia Henschke of Weill Cornell Medical College received funds from the Foundation for Lung Cancer: Early Detection, Prevention and Treatment, underwritten almost entirely by $3.6 million from the Vector Group, parent company of the Liggett Group of cigarette-makers.

Sloan Foundation gives Wikipedia $3M

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will give the nonprofit group behind Wikipedia $3 million, the largest gift in the collaborative online encyclopedia’s history, The Associated Press reported March 25. The Wikimedia Foundation had been searching for studier forms of support than the small, individual donations it has relied on since its inception.

Yahoo, Google, MySpace promote common social network

Yahoo, Google and MySpace are joining forces to create a nonprofit organization to fund OpenSocial, a platform to create a common coding standard for media-sharing and social networking that work all across the Web, The Associated Press reported March 25. The OpenSocial Foundation will keep the platform neutral and viable, the three groups said.

Foreign aid groups in Pakistan fear Islamic extremists

Foreign aid groups in Pakistan’s northwest region face growing threats from Islamic extremists that target them for employing women and working for women’s rights, The Associated Press reported March 19. An attack on Plan International last month left four aid workers dead.

Naming gifts is ancient tradition, modern blight

Naming-gifts is an ancient tradition among Jewish philanthropists, but an increasingly criticized one, The Jewish Week reported March 19. Though plaques and inscriptions can remind and encourage others to give tzedekah, or charity, they can also create unintended complications when bigger gifts waiting in the wings raise questions of a naming right’s perpetuity.

Bribery drives social welfare in Latin America, New York City

Conditional cash transfers have arrived on the New York social welfare scene by way of Latin America, and a debut in Britain and other European countries may be in the works, The Economist reported March 13. Opportunity NYC, funded in part by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charity, will run pilot programs offering cash incentives to parents for improving their children’s health and education.

Bill would end forced pay for California volunteers

California nonprofits that use free labor on restoration and construction projects would be forced to pay volunteers if a bill in the state Senate doesn’t pass, The San Francisco Chronicle reported March 24. Some unions oppose the bill on the “specious” grounds that volunteers steal contractors’ work, The Redding Record-Searchlight said in an editorial March 26.

For-profit universities attract minorities, women, older students

For-profit universities have become a significant force in higher education in the U.S. and Mexico, attracting particularly large numbers of women, minorities, and older students, Diverse Magazine reported March 24. Though research in this area is still nascent, researchers cite urban locations, low cost, and job access as motivating factors for many for-profit university students.

Chinese newly-rich face ostracism, obstacles

Suspicion, jealousy, and resentment are a revelation to China’s newly-rich and many are turning to philanthropy as a release from and a repayment to their “wealthy-hating” society, Li Yuan said in a column in The Wall Street Journal March 19. China harbors a growing number of philanthropists like Niu Gensheng, founder of China Mengniu Dairy Group, who donated all his shares to his foundation, a total of $500 million, yet the Chinese government makes such gifts difficult with its reluctance to encourage privately funded and organized institutions, said Yuan.

Ritz-Carlton adds amenity: charity work

The Ritz-Carlton is adding a new luxury amenity — volunteer work, USA Today reported March 20. The hotel chain’s “Give Back Getaways” is buying into the new “voluntourism” trend, offering guests a half-day of planting trees, protecting endangered species or soup kitchen cooking for $50 to $100.

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