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Nonprofit roundup for April 11, 2008

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Massachusetts Senate considers executive-pay cap

A bill under consideration in the Massachusetts senate would cap compensation for executives at $500,000 for nonprofits with annual revenues exceeding $1 billion, The Boston Herald reported April 9. Fourteen top executives at state nonprofit hospitals received pay packages of $1 million or more last year.

Homebuilder puts $5M pledge on hold

Homebuilder John Wieland has “put on hold” the balance of a $5 million commitment to Emory University that would have put his name on a new ethics center, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported April 7. Wieland, like others in the housing business, has faced financial difficulties since the end of 2007.

Nonprofit developers get $20M loan pool

A $20-million loan pool financed by the state will help nonprofit developers in Massachusetts buy foreclosed properties that otherwise could remain vacant indefinitely, The Boston Globe reported April 10. Though nonprofits generally apply to the state for funding to buy a property, the process often takes too long to close a sale.

California volunteer bill fails

A bill that would have allowed California nonprofits to continue using volunteers for public-works projects has been defeated in a state Senate committee, The San Francisco Chronicle reported April 10. Lawmakers are considering another bill with a similar goal.

National trust, Lowe’s to preserve historic black schools

In an effort to preserve historic black schools, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Lowe’s Home Improvement will give $50,000 each to renovate and conserve 17 Rosenwald schools in 10 states, USA Today reported April 7. The schools, born of a partnership between philanthropist Julius Rosenwald and educator Booker T. Washington, once numbered nearly 5,000 and represented a place of educational opportunity for African-American children in the South and Southwest.

Alpert gives $15M to music school

Eight-time Grammy winner Herb Alpert has pledged $15 million to the School of Music at the California Institute of the Arts, following a $30 million donation he made last fall to establish the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, The Los Angeles Times reported April 9. The music school at the California Institute of the Arts also will be renamed after Alpert.

Scottish entrepreneur donates $394M

Duncan Bannatyne has announced plans to set up a foundation to give away the bulk of his fortune of 200 million British pounds, or $394 million, The Scotsman reported April 10. The Scottish entrepreneur and panelist on a BBC TV show has made a documentary encouraging others to do the same.

Russian nonprofits dwindling

A report by the Russian Federal Registration Service estimates nearly two-thirds of the country’s nonprofits have disappeared since 2002, and charities predict further “liquidation” this summer, The Moscow Times reported April 9. The report coincides with accusations by Nikolai Patrushev, director of the Russian Federal Security Service, who says foreign nonprofits are helping terrorist recruitment groups take advantage of Russia’s socioeconomic, ethnic and religious problems, Kommersant reported April 8.

Conference grapples with Diaspora funding in Israel

Despite growing affluence, Israelis still look to the U.S. for much of their funding, U.S. Jewish philanthropy leaders said at a Jewish Funders Network conference on Israeli philanthropy, Ha’aretz reported April 4. As U.S. funding wanes, Israeli leaders should be careful to engage their growing benefactors in Russia and the former Soviet Union not as “rich uncles,” but as partners, Anshel Pfeffer said in an opinion column in Ha’aretz April 6.

Palestinian billionaire aims to boost universities

Palestinian billionaire Munib al Masri hopes to turn his West-Bank estate into an academic retreat that would attract foreign professors to Palestinian universities, National Public Radio reported April 9. In turning from the oil industry to philanthropy, al Masri has erected a museum in his basement for fourth-century Byzantine ruins discovered when his palace was built, and founded the Muntada Forum, a lobbying group that promotes reform and dialogue among warring Palestinian factions.

British charities seek settlement leftovers

Two British charities are making a bid to force British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to donate to charity the remainder of a fund worth 73.5 million pounds, or $145 million, that was created for the victims of a fuel-surcharges cartel, The Financial Times reported April 7. If successful, UK charities may begin to benefit from a practice already common in the U.S., where unclaimed funds in class-action lawsuits are passed on to charity.

UN chief in Afghanistan pledges donor coordination

Kai Eide, the UN secretary-general’s new special representative to Afghanistan, promised to reform existing methods of overseeing the activity of donors and aid groups in the war-torn country, after a recent report said 40 percent of Afghan aid money goes back to rich donor countries as consultants’ fees and corporate profits, The Financial Times reported April 9. The U.S. has contributed $21 billion of the $37.7 billion in total international aid to Afghanistan, and hopes to give $4 billion more, The Associated Press reported April 9.

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