Nonprofit news roundup for April 15, 2008

Donor constraints can limit universities

Quirky restrictions imposed by donors can limit universities, creating tensions between the benefactor and the institution or simply becoming unworkable, The New York Times reported April 13. Reports to Congress on endowment practices by 131 of the wealthiest U.S. colleges and universities show that donors constraints limit as much as 80 percent of endowment funds at some schools, like Harvard and the University of Texas.

Charity fundraising seeks Wall Street replacements

Following a strong fundraising year, Wall Street’s troubles have charities putting on a cautionary face, The New York Times reported April 12. Bracing for fewer corporate contributions in the coming year, many charities are looking for ways to continue support from long-time donors and find new ones.

Clinton linked to Tibetan crackdown

A Chinese Internet company accused of collaborating with the government in its crackdown on Tibetan activists has been linked to former President Bill Clinton, The Los Angeles Times reported April 13. Alibaba, which last month carried a government-issued “most-wanted” posting of Tibetan activists on its homepage, gave an undisclosed donation to Clinton’s charity instead of paying fees for a talk he gave to Internet executives in 2005.

Bush, Cheney disclose charity contributions

U.S. President George Bush and his wife Laura gave $165,660 to charity in 2007, nearly 18 percent of their adjusted gross income, and Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne donated $166,547, about 5 percent of their adjusted gross income, United Press International reported April 12. Beneficiaries of Bush donations included: Crawford (Texas) Volunteer Fire Department, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Malaria No More Fund, Martha’s Table and St. John’s Church, UPI said, and proceeds from a $150,000 advance on a children’s book co-authored by first lady Barbara Bush and daughter Jenna went to Teach for America and the New Teacher’s Project CNN International reported April 11.

British charities urged to take bigger investment risks

The British Institute of Philanthropy says charities should take greater investment risks with their assets to achieve better returns, and those with investments of more than 10 million British pounds, or $19.7 million, should have a specialist committee of trustees with investment experience whose practices are reported publicly, The Financial Times reported April 14. The advisory group calls on the sector´s government regulator, The Charity Commission, to revise its existing investment guidelines after reports that many British charities make poorer returns that their U.S. peers and than the market dictates.

Geriatric care faces workforce crisis

Training in geriatric care must increase rapidly to avoid an “impending crisis” as 78 million baby boomers approach old age, The Wall Street Journal reported April 15 [subscription only]. A recent report blames misplaced financial incentives for the dwindling numbers of geriatric specialists.

Nations cannot solve global problems, UN Assembly president says

Viable solutions to global problems can no longer be built around nation-states as primary agents of change, Srgjan Kerim, president of the United Nations General Assembly, said in an opinion column April 9 in Dar Al-Hayat of Beirut, Lebanon. Instead, a new culture of internationalism should seek solutions through international institutions, the ever-growing number of nonprofits, and active individual members of civil societies, Kerim said.

European Union seen funding anti-Israel nonprofits

The European Union has provided public money to nonprofits engaging in anti-Israel activity, contradicting its commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to a new report by NGO Monitor, The Jerusalem Post reported April 1. The report also criticizes a perceived lack of transparency and accountability in EU funding of nonprofits.

In brief:

* The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Aspen Institute are setting up a commission to determine whether people are getting the local news they need to make informed decisions in their communities, the Associated Press reported April 14.

* Ecuadorians Pablo Fajardo Mendoza and Luis Yanza will receive $150,000 each as winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize for organizing indigenous communities to fight massive oil contamination allegedly caused by Texaco, the Los Angeles Times reported April 13.

* Family pets are the latest victims of the housing meltdown, as evicted homeowners are forced to turn them in to shelters or abandon them, The Washington Post reported April 9.

* Mohammed Hussein Ali’s philanthropy may have helped the dark-horse candidate trounce seasoned politicians in Kenya’s recent parliamentary elections, The East African Standard reported April 7.

* Canadian millionaire John Keith Owen left his fortune of 1.5 million British pounds, or $2.9 million, to Sidmouth, England, a picturesque resort town, after learning he had less than eight weeks to live, reported April 10.

* Artists say Prague’s rich cultural scene is being threatened by a series of policy changes and grant delays at City Hall, The Prague Post reported April 9.

* One of the newest and biggest African hedge funds, Nubuke Investments, will donate part of its fees to a charity that funds executive training for Africans, The Financial Times reported April 1.

* The Orthodox Philanthropy Club, a Russian nonprofit, is launching a project to build pre-fab Orthodox churches in Soviet-era housing districts where building costs and time-lags for permits might otherwise prohibit them, Luca Galassi said in a column in The Peace Reporter April 7.

* The local administrations in Mansehra and Battagram, Pakistan have asked aid agencies to operate without female staff after a series of violent attacks, The Dawn Blog reported April 1.

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