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Nonprofit news roundup for April 22, 2008

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IRS keeps close eye on nonprofits

The IRS is stepping up its monitoring of nonprofits this year, ensuring that organizations do not violate their tax-exempt status by engaging in unauthorized political activities during election season, WebCPA reported April 18. The IRS also is seeking more detailed information from nonprofit hospitals about their charity-care practices, the Wichita Eagle reported April 19, and is asking nonprofits with $25,000 or less in annual income to begin filing e-postcards within the next three years, MinnPost reported April 21.

Veterans groups sue government over care

Two nonprofit groups representing U.S. veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have sued the Department of Veteran Affairs, claiming inadequate care is leading to an increase in suicides, the BBC reported April 21. Veterans United for Truth and Veterans for Common Sense are suing the agency in a San Francisco court, at a moment when an average of 18 veterans kill themselves daily.

Charitable-giving tax laws changing

Tax laws governing charitable giving are changing, and in this April 21 Wall Street Journal column, Tom Herman outlines the most significant changes in recent years, from tighter receipt requirements for cash donations to the Congressional limbo over IRA transfers to write-off policies on household items, volunteer work and used cars.

British venture capitalist to launch social-investment bank

Venture capitalist Sir Ronald Cohen is joining financial and charity leaders to launch a social-investment bank that will help nonprofits access capital markets, The Financial Times reported April 21. The bank would focus on developing financial products currently unavailable to the nonprofit sector.

Finance executives go nonprofit

Finance executives who have made the switch to the nonprofit world say they find their new jobs more rewarding, CFO.com reported April 17. They acknowledge, however, that professional and personal adjustments can be difficult.

McCain’s wife is “one-woman philanthropic operation”

Cindy McCain, wife of U.S. presidential candidate John McCain, is a “one-woman philanthropic operation,” The Chicago Tribune reported April 15. A friend’s accident while on vacation in Micronesia inspired Mrs. McCain’s medical-relief missions, which have taken her to countries like Kuwait, Nicaragua, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Vietnam, sometimes before wars ended and diplomatic relations with the U.S. normalized.

In Brief:

* Verna Dauterive is giving $25 million to the University of Southern California in what appears to be the largest donation from an African American to a U.S. college or university, The Los Angeles Times reported April 19.

* Doctors Without Borders received a gift valued at about $40-million from the estate of Norwegian art collector Haaken Christensen, United Press International reported April 19.

* The city of Austin is accepting applications from nonprofits to assist in a charitable campaign that collects and distributes donations from city employees, The Austin Business Journal reported April 18.

* New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg could get an offer for the presidency of Johns Hopkins University, if a petition circulating among professors at the mayor’s alma mater succeeds, The New York Sun reported April 21.

* Israeli troops have “stormed” Palestinian-operated charities, orphanages, and boarding schools in Hebron and confiscated their property, citing alleged links to Hamas that charity officials deny, Khaled Amayreh said in a column in Al-Ahram April 17.

* Two Pennsylvania organizations that work with troubled youth have joined forces, the latest in a growing trend of nonprofit mergers, The Pittsburgh Business Times reported April 17.

* Turkish and international human-rights groups reiterated their call for the government to abolish a law that criminalizes denigrating “Turkishness,” Today’s Zaman reported April 18, though several other laws still threaten free speech in the country, Der Spiegel reported April 18.

* The Miami pastor accused of stealing $10,000 from Friends of MLK, a charity he ran, has implicated Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones in the case, The Miami Herald reported April 20.

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