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Nonprofit news roundup for April 14, 2008

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Clinton, Obama disclose giving

U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have given away 10 percent of their income to charity since 2000, The Dallas Morning News reported April 9. Rival presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, donated 6 percent of their income in 2006, although before a 2005 book deal they gave considerably less, the Morning News said. Six million dollars of the Clinton’s $10 million in charitable contributions have gone to their family foundation, which gave away $2.5 million between 2001 and 2006, IBNLive reported April 8.

Wal-Mart family is biggest conservative school-reform funder

The family of Sam Walton, the Bentonville-Ark. native who founded Wal-Mart, is by far the largest donor to conservative education-reform causes in the U.S., The Arkansas Times reported April 10. With hundreds of millions of dollars donated to educational causes nationwide, including the start-up funding for the private-school voucher movement, the Waltons’ money has bought more charter schools and “a looser law to regulate them,” the Times said.

Housing nonprofit blames credit-rating firms for foreclosures

A Washington-based affordable-housing group, NCRC, has called for a public investigation of whether U.S. credit-rating firms knowingly inflated ratings on mortgage-backed securities, and are thus partly to blame for the recent spate of foreclosures, The Wall Street Journal reported April 9 [subscription only]. In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the group named Fitch, Moody’s Investors Service, and Standard and Poor’s as potential perpetrators.

Drug companies ask nonprofits to fund research

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is expanding its collaboration with Epix Pharmaceuticals, a Lexington, Mass.-based biotechnology firm, funneling as much as $50 million into the company’s efforts to develop cystic fibrosis drugs, Xconomy reported April 7. The deal is the latest in what many believe is a growing trend of drug developers turning to nonprofits to fund research, particularly early-stage studies and drugs for rare diseases.

Philanthropic leadership emerges in conflict zones

Popular and even philanthropic media has missed the emergence of philanthropic leadership in “conflict-burdened” nations, Susan Raymond said in the third article in a five-part series on global philanthropy at on Philanthropy April 2. The Balkans, the Middle East, India, Pakistan and parts of Africa have made sustainable progress in developing the types of long-term solutions to conflict in which local philanthropy is critical, Raymond said.

Anti-Defamation League criticized over Armenian genocide position

The Massachusetts Municipal Association has severed ties with the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate program over the League’s failure to support federal legislation recognizing the World War I-era massacre of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, The Boston Globe reported April 9. At least 12 Massachusetts communities have left the program since last summer over the Armenian issue.

Cellphones could help end global poverty, economists say

A growing number of economists believe the economizing effect of cell phones could restructure developing countries in such a radical way as to reshape the global economy, Sarah Corbett said in a feature in The New York Times Magazine April 13. Even the smallest improvements in daily efficiency offered to mobile-phone users, if extended to the approximately three billion global poor who do not yet have them, could have enormous effects “we are just beginning to understand,” Corbett said.

In Brief:

* The National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center has reached its $350-million construction-fundraising goal, David W. Dunlap said in a blog in The New York Times April 9.

* American Idol’s charitable telethon “Idol Gives Back,” raised $225 million, more than last year, but its ratings have dropped, The Los Angeles Times reported April 11.

* Campaign groups from developing countries are calling the United Nations’ new human-rights review process a “farce” controlled by Islamic and African countries “lining up to praise each other,” Reuters reported April 10.

* Montana-based Project Vote Smart may kick U.S. presidential candidate Sen. John McCain off its board for failing to respond to its Political Courage Test, Mother Jones Magazine reported April 7.

* Mara Manus is stepping down as head of New York’s Public Theater, The New York Times reported April 11.

* Seattle City Librarian Deborah James will join the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as deputy director of the global-libraries program, The Seattle Times reported April 10.

* British charities will get 230 million British pounds, nearly $454 million, from the government to boost jobs and reduce crimes in impoverished communities, ThirdSector reported April 10.

* Australian charities may now openly criticize the government without fearing funding cuts, after the current prime minister ended a “gag” imposed by the previous government, The Age reported April 4.

* Turkish civil society groups shared their views on economic and democratic solutions to the country’s Kurdish question in talks with Turkey’s president and prime minister, Today’s Zaman reported in articles April 10 and April 11.

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