Nonprofit news roundup for March 31, 2008

Charity thefts may total $40B a year

Employee theft may be costing nonprofits as much as 13 percent of the sector’s total annual donations, or $40 billion a year, The New York Times reported March 29. A new study shows nonprofit fraud, often kept quiet for fear discussion might hurt donations, might be more widespread than most believe.

Conservatives seen as more generous than liberals

Liberals are “surprisingly” less charitable than conservatives, according to a new study, George F. Will said in an op-ed column in The Washington Post March 27. Though liberal families on average earned 6 percent more, conservative households gave 30 percent more to charity, Will said. Religion was the single biggest predictor of someone’s altruism.

Credit turmoil increasingly affecting nonprofits

The credit turmoil is affecting growing numbers of nonprofits that hold auction-rate bonds, causing those groups to reach deep into contingency funds and begin to ponder scaling back operations, The Boston Globe reported March 28. Groups as diverse as student-loan providers, radio stations, and universities like Tufts, Brandeis and Bentley have been affected by the chaotic bond market.

Suharto’s charity fined $100 million

An Indonesian court acquitted the late President Suharto of graft, and ordered his charitable foundation, which was not acquitted, to pay more than $100 million to the state, Agence-France Presse reported March 27. The government had alleged that both Suharto and his Supersemar Foundation were involved in the disappearance of millions of state dollars, but said the former president acted in his capacity as foundation executive.

Palestinians protest charity closures

Thousands of Palestinians protested Israeli raids and closures of orphanages and charities linked to Islamist group Hamas, Reuters reported March 27. Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June, Israel has increased such raids on groups that say they are serving only ordinary Palestinians; the United States has also blacklisted some Palestinian charities.

Carbon labels confuse consumers

Carbon labels, single numbers that purport to tell consumers how “green” a given product is, are a “logical outgrowth” of the European crackdown on greenhouse gases, Der Spiegel reported March 7. Yet none of the handful of companies currently using them have determined just how accurate these numbers are and how to train consumers to use them.

Eurasian civic leaders learn from American counterparts

The Open World Program, a U.S. congressional initiative, brings Russian and other Eurasian leaders to learn how their American counterparts meet the social and civic needs both regions face, Lizz Cobbs said in a blog for The Ann Arbor News March 20. A recent 10-member Russian delegation spent 10 days with social workers from Eastern Michigan University and Michigan public schools.

Dubai reinvents itself as art center

Dubai is seeking cultural legitimacy through such events as Art Dubai, the largest art fair in the Middle East, Der Spiegel reported March 21. With a growing number of Western galleries in attendance, Art Dubai could soon rival its much older European and American counterparts.

Washington State University gets $25M from Gates

Washington State University has received $25 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help build a new school for the study of infectious diseases, The Associated Press reported March 25.

Nepal’s royal family may have stolen from conservation trust

A new report concludes that Nepal’s royal family stole large sums from one of the country’s major conservation trusts, the BBC News reported March 27. Some question the validity of the report, prepared by Maoist supporters they say have minimal conservation experience.

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