Nonprofit news roundup for April 4, 2008

Soros says financial crisis worst since Depression

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros called the current financial crisis the worst since the Great Depression and said markets will fall further after a brief rebound, Bloomberg News reported April 3. Soros, who has recently returned to a more active role in managing the $17 billion Quantum Endowment Fund that funds his philanthropy, said to avoid another “super-bubble” like the housing bubble that led to the current credit crisis, governments must abandon the belief that markets are self-correcting, and banks must control their own borrowing.

Alvarado urges young nonprofit leaders to ‘listen’

The innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Generations X and Y are great assets to the nonprofit sector, but young nonprofit leaders should “take what works and improve on it,” Audrey Alvarado, who recently announced she would step down as executive director of the National Council of Nonprofit Associations, said in an interview with Perspectives from the Pipeline blog. Alvarado suggests young leaders be patient enough to understand the full context of a problem before jumping into action and not to dismiss the wisdom of older peers simply because they do not know how to hyperlink to a website.

British charity laws kick in

New rules have come into force in Britain that will require charities to demonstrate their public benefit, and require professional fundraisers to tell prospective donors their wages, The Third Sector reported April 3. Professional street fundraisers, who cut a controversial profile in city shopping centers, may find themselves constrained, the BBC reported March 30, and the new rules, which weigh charities’ benefit to society against their detriments, among them “refusal to allow medical treatment,” could also pose a threat to religious groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Matt Cresswell said in a blog at Religion News Blog March 9.

World Food Program sees growing hunger crisis

World Food Program officials predict food riots and political unrest as a $500 million deficit causes the aid agency to consider reducing or cutting off food rations, even as needs increase, The Los Angeles Times reported April 1. The agency blames the deficit on skyrocketing operating costs due to soaring food prices, a slumping dollar, demand for biofuels and poor harvests.

American arts donor quits Britain over tax

A new tax of 30,000 British pounds, or $60,000, on foreign residents in Britain has American-born philanthropist Carol Høgel headed for California, The London Times reported April 1. Høgel, who has given over 20 billion British pounds to British arts groups during her 24 years living in Scotland, is angered by the British government’s “destructively spiteful, philistine attitude” and says her philanthropy will be “valued, not punished” in the U.S.

Vaccines deal to focus on poor states

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joins five national governments as potential donors in a $1.5 billion mechanism to boost the development and affordability of new vaccines in the developing world, The Financial Times reported April 3. Advance Market Commitments would provide a guaranteed market for a vaccine, backed by donors’ dollars, but with recipient countries assuming an increasing share of the purchase cost over time.

Ted Turner reconciles with church for malaria’s sake

U.S. media mogul Ted Turner will unite with two Christian organizations to raise $200 million for the fight against Malaria, Reuters Africa reported April 1. The man who once called Christianity “a religion for losers” will join the efforts of his United Nations Foundation with those of the United Methodist Church and Lutheran World Relief; “I don’t know,” he said. “As I get older … I get, you know, more tolerant.”

Gaza aid groups should assist, not advocate, says professor

Aid groups and other nonprofits in sensitive zones like the Gaza strip should be taken to task “responsibly” for not focusing more on concrete assistance than promoting a political agenda under the guise of humanitarian advocacy, Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, senior research fellow in politics at Brunel University, said in a blog in the Jewish Chronicle March 20. NGO Monitor, a group criticized by Pinto-Duschinsky, has published a rebuttal blog on its website.

Howard Hughes Medical president steps down

The president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is stepping down, reported April 1. Thomas R. Cech, who served as president since 2000, says he will return to research and teaching, resuming his position as an investigator for the institute at the University of Colorado.

Chinese higher education not yet seen as threat to U.S.

Much worry has gone into countering the rise of China over America’s declining scientific and economic advantage, but recent studies of Chinese higher education, though they show a post-secondary system “very much on the move,” indicate it is too early in China’s education boom to justify “tremulous reactions,” Inside Higher Ed reported April 1. Between 1999 and 2005, the number of students in Chinese universities tripled, with particular growth in science and engineering and among rural populations, but China is also shifting from quantity to quality, elevating demands on faculty productivity and increasing competitiveness.

‘Pork’ funding for nonprofits criticized

Nonprofits that deserve state support should receive consistent grants based on objective criteria, not lawmakers’ “taste for bacon,” The Roanoke Times said in an editorial March 28. Instead, Virginia “pork” – funds earmarked for “non-state entities” – serves worthy institutions unequally, the Times says, and mainly serves lawmakers’ re-election tickets.

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