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Nonprofit news roundup for April 3, 2008

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ACLU clashes with South Carolina affiliate

The American Civil Liberties Union is embroiled in a conflict with its South Carolina affiliate over access to tapes of board meetings, The New York Times reported April 2. The ACLU has threatened to take over operation of the South Carolina group, which it accuses of mismanagement and poor spending habits, while affiliate leaders contend they are being punished for speaking out about the direction and leadership of the national organization.

Regulation predicted if nonprofits don’t police themselves

The process that led to development of Independent Sector’s principles for ethical nonprofit governance suggests that if nonprofits don’t regulate themselves, Congress will, Shannon Buggs said in a column at the Houston Chronicle March 28. Only six of the 33 rules issued by the Washington-based coalition of foundations and charities are required by law, Buggs said.

Race seen as factor in philanthropy, social welfare 

Several economic studies suggest racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. undermine public support for investment in social welfare, Eduardo Porter said in an editorial in The New York Times March 31. While philanthropy, in comparison to public support, lets Americans target their private spending on groups they believe are deserving, economists believe less racial diversity in Western European countries may account for their preference for large welfare states because they believe the money will go to other white Europeans, Porter said.

Violating drug patents won’t help poor patients

Poor infrastructure and heavy taxes levied by “greedy” developing-world governments are largely responsible for obstructing access to much-needed drugs in developing countries, Barun Mitra, founder and director of the Liberty Institute, a public-policy nonprofit in India, said in a blog at the Des Moines Register April 1. Thailand’s recent announcement that the nation’s state-run drug manufacturer would continue to violate the patents of four key cancer drugs covers up a Global Fund grant rejected in favor of domestic drug production and an excessive military budget, Mitra said.

Philadelphia arts groups face leadership change

In the last several years, Philadelphia has experienced an unprecedented shift in the leadership of its arts and culture organizations, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported March 30. Many say the changes are part of a national trend among all nonprofits, with many leaders retiring or looking for a “second act” in their careers.

Charity official’s arrest surprises Detroit Arab leaders

Leaders of the Detroit Arab-American community were surprised by the indictment for conspiracy with the former Iraqi government of Muthanna Al-Hanooti, whom they respected for his charity and who they say was living “check by check,” despite allegations that he received two million barrels of Iraqi oil for his services, The Associated Press reported March 28. Al-Hanooti was employed with the Detroit-area charity Life for Relief and Development and also co-founded Focus on American and Arab Interests and Relations, The Seattle Times reported March 28.

Charity can increase market share, Kroger finds

Charitable work can be a significant factor in companies seeking to gain a competitive edge by becoming more consumer-oriented, The Indianapolis Star reported March 28. Indianapolis-area Kroger stores attribute their increased market share in part to philanthropy.

Kaiser gives $50M to found community medicine at Univ. of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma has approved a $50 million gift agreement to establish the School of Community Medicine at the university’s Tulsa branch, The Norman Transcript reported March 28. The gift from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, is the largest in the institution’s history.

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