Nonprofit news roundup for April 17, 2008

Small donations fuel Obama, Clinton campaigns

Small donations are the backbone of Democratic presidential campaigns this year, especially for Barack Obama, who has used modest contributions from hundreds of thousands of voters to shatter fundraising records, The Boston Globe reported April 10. Yet the small-donor phenomenon is a “fabulously successful” version of a traditional fundraising effort, rather than “a parallel public financing system,” as Obama has described it in his efforts to get out of a previous commitment to limit his campaign spending in exchange for federal dollars, The Philadelphia Inquirer said in an editorial April 15.

Chevron disputes winners of environmental prize

Chevron Corp. is disputing the award of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize to two Ecuadorian activists who organized indigenous communities to fight oil contamination in the Amazon rain forest, The San Francisco Chronicle reported April 15. The oil company, which is being sued in Ecuadorian court, says it had already cleaned up its share of the mess, but that the Goldman Foundation’s awards committee didn’t care to listen. 

U.S. AIDS funds mired in conservative agenda

Though the U.S. has increased funding for HIV and AIDS relief, the effectiveness of the spending is undermined by clauses based on American conservative moral considerations, not hard facts, Nina O’Farrell said in an opinion column in The Guardian April 16. Congress will require reports from any country using less than 50 percent of HIV prevention funds for abstinence and faithfulness programs.

When donors move away

As donors move away to warmer climates, many Western New York arts and cultural groups are finding their steadiest sources of voluntary and fiscal support eroding, The Buffalo News reported April 6. Many are stepping up efforts to keep in touch with longtime donors who move away, but fundraisers say it’s an uphill battle as people become entrenched in their adopted communities.

Princeton donor-intent dispute roils fundraising world

Fallout from the donor-intent dispute over Princeton University’s $900-million Robertson Foundation is expected to dramatically reshape nonprofit fundraising, Frederic J. Fransen, executive director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, said in an opinion column in the Philadelphia Inquirer April 9. Several other U.S. colleges are embroiled in similar disputes, and Americans’ disillusionment with the nonprofit sector is growing. To turn things around, donor intent must be taken more seriously, Fransen said.

Hebraic charter schools are the new face of Jewish education

Hebraic charter schools are the answer to the rising cost of Jewish day schools which, at more than $25,000 per child per year in New York City, have made a Jewish education unaffordable to all but Orthodox Jews and the extremely rich, Sarah Kass said in a guest column in The Jerusalem Post April 7. However, it’s the opportunity for innovation, and not cost-cutting, that is encouraging philanthropists to push for a more open and diverse civic education for Jewish youth.

In Brief:

* Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, donated her entire fortune of 51 million British pounds, or $101 million, to charity before her death from a brain hemorrhage last September, The Telegraph of London reported April 16.

* New York art collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel are giving 50 contemporary artworks each to an art institution in every U.S. state, The Los Angeles Times reported April 11.

* New York Governor David A. Paterson and his wife listed one charitable gift on their 2007 tax return, $150 in clothes to the Salvation Army, while declaring $269,815 in income, The New York Times reported April 9.

* Home Depot founder Kenneth C. Langone has given another $100 million to New York University Medical Center, matching an original $100 million he gave anonymously in 1999, The New York Times reported April 16.

* Catholic diocese in New York and Washington D.C. are financing the visit of Pope Benedict XVI largely through wealthy donors, not church budgets, The New York Times reported April 15.

* A Swiss doctor who heads a Cambodian children’s medical group refused a donation of sale proceeds from a nude photo of French first lady and ex-super model Carla Bruni, saying the donation would shock Cambodian sensibilities, Agence France-Presse reported April 16.

* Minnesota Masonic Charities will give The University of Minnesota $65 million for cancer research over the next 15 years, The Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota reported April 11.

* Former Czech president and Communist dissident Václav Havel is launching a new pan-European human rights initiative called the European Foundation for Democracy through Partnership, Radio Praha reported April 15.

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