Nonprofit news roundup for April 9, 2008

Former corporate exec to lead Red Cross

The American Red Cross has selected Gail J. McGovern, a Harvard Business School professor, as its new head, The New York Times reported April 9. A former senior executive at AT&T and Fidelity Investments and frequent nonprofit board member, McGovern brings extensive fundraising and business experience to the battered organization, which is struggling with a $200 million deficit, mounting blood-drive fines and low staff morale.

Veteran U.S. civil rights groups decline

The organizations that led the civil rights movement during its heyday in the 1960s are now struggling for members or struggling to keep the lights on, The Washington Post reported April 5. The decline of groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress of Racial Equality, and even the NAACP has been driven by internal and external factors, among them government spying and harassment, executive scandals, a proliferation of other hubs for civil-rights work, and a failure to modernize in recruitment methods and message.

Global poverty on track to halve by 2015, say IMF, World Bank

Efforts to cut global poverty in half by 2015 are on course, but Africa lags behind, say the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Reuters reported April 8. The number of extreme poor, who live on less than $1 a day, declined by 278 million between 1990 and 2004, with nearly half the decline taking place in the five years through 2004.

Food prices will keep rising, says World Bank

Rising food prices are likely to persist for several years, says Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, The Associated Press reported April 7. Strong demand, diet changes and the use of biofuels have caused a near emergency in world food stocks that may reverse the gains made by poor nations over the last five to 10 years, Zoellick says.

Choice to head U.N. Development Fund for Women criticized

The appointment of Spanish sociology professor Ines Alberdi to head the U.N. Development Fund for Women has drawn criticism from advocates of a candidate from the developing world, Indian activist and scholar Gita Sen, The Associated Press reported April 8. Women’s-rights groups have suggested the appointment may have been made to please the fund’s largest donor, Spain.

UK government offers matching-gifts to build university endowments

British millionaires are being encouraged to give generously to their former universities in an attempt to rival the endowments of their American counterparts, The London Times reported April 3. The government is launching a matching-gift scheme worth 200 million British pounds, or nearly $4 million, to attract gifts to university endowments, which will be used to help underprivileged students.

Wright convicted of stealing from N.C. nonprofit

Thomas E. Wright, a former North Carolina state representative, has been convicted on corruption charges, including stealing $7,400 in charitable contributions destined for a Wilmington health-care foundation he led, The News & Observer in Raleigh reported April 8. Wright is the first legislator to be kicked out of the N.C. House of Representatives since 1880.

Zimbabwean charities face battle to fix up tyrant’s legacy

Aid agencies in Zimbabwe face a spate of challenges if and when longtime President Robert Mugabe cedes power, The Irish Independent reported April 3. Zimbabwe faces humanitarian crises whose solutions must be long-term and sustainable. Those crises include plummeting life expectancy, skyrocketing inflation, food production crippled by Mugabe’s farm redistribution program, a formerly excellent education system interrupted by the lure of military service and the black market, and 1.8 million people suffering from HIV and AIDS.

Latin American schools get televised makeover

A number of Latin American schools are getting a televised makeover through a partnership between Microsoft and DirectTV, Ina Fried said in a blog in CNET News April 3. Starting with a Miami pilot school, “Piedra, Papel y Tijera,” or “Rock, Paper and Scissors,” will outfit schools with the latest technology, then air documentaries of the process throughout Latin America. The two sponsors are also working with the Discovery Channel to beam educational programs to the schools by way of satellite.

Red Bull sues Polish charity over slogan

Red Bull claims that the energy drink it produces will “give you wings,” but seems to be in the business of clipping others’ wings, as it takes a Polish charity to court over an alleged copy-cat slogan, Der Spiegel reported April 4. Fundacja Gra┼żyny Malecha, a seven-year-old foundation for impoverished children, attracted Red Bull’s ire last year for its slogan “give children wings.”

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