Nonprofit news roundup for April 8, 2008

Struggling charity hospital gets $200M

One of the largest charity hospitals in the U.S. has received $200 million from the Woodruff Foundation, the largest gift on record to a single public hospital, The New York Times reported April 8. Financially-strapped Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta received the gift as part of a reorganization package, which was to include government contributions. But those contributions were left unmade when the Georgia legislature ended its session last week.

Rise of private museums shakes art world

The rise of private museums has the museum world roiling and resorting to an arsenal of tactics to appeal to donors to donate to an existing institution instead of building their own, The Wall Street Journal reported April 4. Wal-mart heir Alice Walton, MSD Capital partner Glenn Fuhrman, and Gap founder Don Fisher have all launched or plan to launch their own art institutions.

Ayn Rand stipulation in college gifts drives debate

Gifts by BB&T of more than $28 million to 27 colleges to support the moral study of capitalism have raised objections when faculty realized the gifts came with that unusual stipulation that Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” be required reading, The Associated Press reported April 6. BB&T CEO John Allison John Allison, who first came across the book as a college student and hoped to replicate that encounter for others, says he was surprised by the controversy.

Hong Kong philanthropists becoming more strategic

Hong Kong philanthropists are increasingly adopting strategic approaches to their giving, taking active roles in the projects they fund, detailing expectations with grant recipients, and spreading their money out over time depending on whether these expectations are met, The South China Morning Post reported April 3. This donor shift was set in motion in 1998 when the Chinese government cut charity subsidies.

Microfinance success in Mexico raises ‘mission drift’ concerns

A successful microfinance bank in Mexico poses the danger of “mission drift,” some say, as its emphasis on investor returns may threaten micro-lenders’ original goal of helping the poor, The New York Times reported April 5. Compartamos, which began as a Mother Teresa-inspired nonprofit in 1990, made nearly $80 million in profits last year, with a portfolio of almost $400 million, yet its annual interest rates still hover at nearly 90 percent.

Women posing naked for charity seen as exploitative

The increasing occurrence of female celebrities posing naked for charity shows that the exploitation of women’s bodies has become widely accepted, Julie Bindel said in an editorial for The Guardian April 4. Groups that have made use of naked celebrities, images that would provoke a serious backlash if used in commercial settings, Bindel says, include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Elton John’s HIV/Aids charity, skin-cancer awareness campaigns, and campaigns against sex trafficking and for equality of the sexes.

Sharia-compliant funds support questionable causes

Financing that complies with Islamic law, known as Sharia, is expanding among banks and securities houses eager to share in the profit of Middle Eastern oil, with corporate institutions like Dow Jones and Caribou Coffee legitimizing a “barbaric theocratic orthodoxy,” Deroy Murdock, media fellow at Stanford University, said in an opinion column in Human Events April 4. Sharia-compliant funds usually donate 2.5 percent of profits as “zakat” to charity, with some of that funding going to support terrorist-linked causes.

African markets struggle, despite foreign investment

Though unprecedented flows of foreign investment in recent years have created strong performance in many sub-Saharan markets, they have failed to stabilize these frontier markets, ever victims of their own political turmoil and now global financial unrest, The Guardian reported April 4. High commodity prices and growing demand for energy, metals and minerals may fail to counter the crises that come from a drop in the $30 billion in remittances the region relies on and political troubles that don’t leave untouched even Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, regional pillars of stability.

Economy may impact fight against global warming

The U.S. has warned that the worsening economy may impact funds it gives poor nations to fight global warming, even as African activists appealed for rich, major polluters to donate one percent of their GDP to the fight, Agence France-Presse reported April 3. The International Monetary Fund claims it is possible to fight global warming without negatively impacting economic growth, through schemes such as a gradual, worldwide increase in carbon prices, Agence France-Presse reported April 3.

Fisk will appeal order to display artwork

Fisk University says it will appeal a judge’s order to display the art collection painter Georgia O’Keefe donated to the historically black college in 1949, The Associated Press reported April 4. In March, the judge prohibited any sale or sharing arrangement of the collection by the financially-strapped university and order the artwork displayed, an order the university says threatens the safekeeping of the collection.

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