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Nonprofit news roundup for April 7, 2008

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Nonprofit hospitals get rich, skimp on charity care

Nonprofit hospitals have struck it rich through soaring investments and profitable mergers, and are now facing questions about whether they still merit the large tax breaks originally intended to subsidize their service to the poor, The Wall Street Journal reported April 4. Many nonprofit hospitals, which account for 60 percent of U.S. hospitals, are outperforming their for-profit counterparts and financing $1 billion renovations, but keep only small reserves for charity care.

NYC Council allocates $17.4 million for fake groups

The New York City Council has appropriated about $17.4 million in taxpayer dollars to organizations that do not exist, according to Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, The New York Times reported April 4. The fictitious groups were a cover for council members who later, without the mayor’s approval, spent the money on community programs they favored.

China’s top 100 philanthropists gave $1.8B in five years

China’s top 100 philanthropists have given away $1.8 billion in five years, with education, social welfare and poverty reduction the most popular causes, The China Daily reported April 4. The Hurun Philanthropy List showed the country’s most generous 27 donors gave 100 million yuan, or $14.3 million, last year. The top three donors were hotel and real estate magnate Yu Pengnian, who since 2003 has endowed his foundation with 3 billion yuan, or $428.4 million, for cataract operations; property developer Zhu Mengyi, who has given 1.1 billion yuan, or $157.1 million, in stock; and hotelier Huang Rulun, who has donated 850 million yuan, or $121.4 million.

Foreign aid falls 8.4 percent

Foreign aid fell 8.4 percent last year in real terms, and development officials warn that official aid may become an increasingly marginal feature in developing countries, The Financial Times reported April 4. As a share of national income, the U.S. gave the least of all member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, with many of those countries falling far behind the targets they set in 2005 at the Group of Eight summit.

CSR, philanthropy key in economic slowdown

A company’s reputation is all the more important in times of economic slowdown, and key in reputation-building are “soft” management issues like giving back to society through social responsibility or philanthropy, The Daily Telegraph of London reported April 5.

Americans are generous, despite naysayers, says Freeman

Charity is a pillar of American democracy, and despite a recent spate of naysayers, Americans are giving more than ever, Neal B. Freeman, chairman of the Blackwell Corporation, said in an opinion column in The American Spectator April 2. Journalists Pablo Eisenberg, David Cay Johnson, and Robert Frank are “wrong” to question the motivation of American philanthropists, says Freeman, but even bad press is good publicity for charity’s social presence.

European business schools get popular through CSR

European business schools are gaining popularity among American students, in part because of their wealth of courses on corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, and business in developing countries, BusinessWeek reported April 1. Many European MBA programs are also shorter, cheaper and more diverse than their U.S. counterparts.

Australian arts seek creative fundraising, societal benefit

Australian arts groups should seek to raise money more creatively through licensing fees, digital media and sunrise technologies, arts leaders agreed at a recent summit leading up to a planned federal government review of the national “innovation system” in 2020, The Australian reported April 5. The arts sector has also launched an 18-month advocacy campaign focusing on the arts’ role in the economy and social cohesion, The Australian reported April 3.

Cell phones catch on as change agents in U.S.

Cell phones are just now beginning to catch on as change agents in the U.S., but they have long been used for election monitoring, banking, and HIV medication reminders in parts of the world where landlines and broadband connections are scarce, The Boston Globe reported April 3. From ringtones with a message to providing text-message translation support, cell phone activism runs a wide gamut.

1,000 pounds of food stolen from Va. food bank

Nearly 1,000 pounds of food have been stolen from an Alexandria, Va. food bank, The Washington Post reported April 4. The theft, which officials say occurred sometime between the end of February and the end of March, comes at a time of growing demand for food banks like Alexandrians Involved Ecumenically, which experienced a 30 percent to 40 percent growth in requests for food last year.

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