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Nonprofit news roundup for April 29, 2008

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British giving doubles but leaves arts groups out

The charitable giving of Britain’s richest has doubled, as a new breed of philanthropists pour their fortunes into the developing world, The Sunday Times reported April 20. Of the 9.5 billion British pounds, or $18.7 billion, donated last year, only a tiny fraction went to the arts, causing the leaders of major cultural institutions to call for more gratitude – and friendlier tax laws – for arts donors, The Sunday Times reported April 26.

Employee-volunteerism programs grow

A growing number of companies are “lending out” their employees to offer skilled help at nonprofits or small businesses, The Wall Street Journal reported April 29. Such programs help employees gain skills and a broader perspective on business, but also help attract and retain the younger generation, for whom a prominent employee-volunteerism program is often a strong selling point.

Hiring CEOs externally can be costly

Michigan nonprofits are seeing increased turnover among top executives and, following a national trend, many are hiring new CEOs externally for lack of qualified internal candidates, Crain’s Detroit Business reported April 28. But some are finding that replacing CEOs from within could save money and the operational upset that comes with acclimating external hires.

Health-care nonprofits lead trend in bonuses

Health-care nonprofits in the Detroit area are leading the trend of using annual, performance-based bonuses as incentives for top executives, Crain’s Detroit Business reported April 28. Though many nonprofits are beginning to use such incentive systems, health-care groups are increasingly awarding longer-term bonuses to retain top administration figures.

Nonprofit hospitals requiring payment up-front

Many nonprofit hospitals are now requiring payment up-front, pointing to burgeoning bad-debt and charity-care costs, The Wall Street Journal reported April 28. But critics say income at nonprofit hospitals is soaring, having nearly tripled between 2000 and 2005, and many institutions are using their growing surpluses to reward executives and build new wings while underinsured patients languish, and even die, untreated.

Public radio is popular but still searching

Public radio is drawing larger audiences than ever, but those listeners are tuning in for increasingly shorter periods of time, a phenomenon that is driving a frenetic search for innovative programming at many of the nation’s top stations, The New York Times reported April 27. Experts say public radio had a ten-year popularity surge beginning in the mid-90s, but since 2003, the audience has essentially been “flat.”

‘Filmanthropy’ is gaining momentum

“Filmanthropy” is gaining momentum in Hollywood, where funders like Ted Leonsis and Jeff Skoll are pushing aside blockbusters for nonfiction films with a message, The Financial Times reported April 25. Companies like Skoll’s Participant Productions have popularized documentaries at a time when some see the media as increasingly partisan, yet their commercial success has made it harder to find funding for more difficult subjects.

In brief:

* Venture capitalist Gordon Gund provides seed money for early-stage research on eye disease, particularly “orphan” diseases that are too rare to attract the attention of pharmaceutical companies, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported April 27.

* Hatem El-Hady, chairman of an Islamic charity closed by the government for alleged links to terrorists, has a fundraising page on U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama’s website, FrontPageMagazine reported April 23.

* Irish airline Ryanair has agreed to give a $39,390 donation to a Berlin memorial at a prison once used by the Stasi; the payment was demanded by German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck after the airline used his image without permission, Reuters reported April 24.

* A wildly popular Australian philanthropist who operated a homeless shelter in Sydney has lost credibility thanks to suspected embezzlement, The Sydney Morning Herald reported April 26.

* A new law which would restrict foreigners’ access to the Brazilian Amazon reflects suspicions among conservative politicians and the military that foreign nonprofits are trying to steal the Amazon’s riches, The Independent reported April 27.

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