Nonprofit news roundup for April 30, 2008

Charities seek to benefit from tax rebates

Facing tough economic times, charities are working hard to benefit from the tax rebates arriving in Americans’ mailboxes this week, The New York Times reported April 30. Many are sending out appeals and e-mail campaigns in an effort reminiscent of those launched to take advantage of similar tax windows after Hurricane Katrina and September 11.

New York nonprofits feel Wall Street’s pain

For New York nonprofits, many of whom build their fundraising in part around Wall Street windfalls, recent turmoil in the financial sector spells trouble, The Los Angeles Times reported April 29. As charitable giving follows national economic trends with a lag time of six to 18 months, it’s still unclear how great the impact will be on nonprofit fundraising.

City governments shift funding priorities

As federal funding for community services continues to fall, city governments increasingly are reluctant to fund the nonprofit salaries they have traditionally supported, The Monitor of McAllen, Texas, reported April 22. Some cities are now giving preference to direct-service costs, leaving nonprofits to fund operating costs through other dwindling income streams.

Nonprofits seek engagement through social networks

Nonprofits are hoping online social networks like Facebook and MySpace will open fresh avenues for fundraising and marketing, The Chicago Tribune reported April 30. Though many are finding the whims of Web popularity unpredictable, others have discovered the power of social networks in increasing engagement, not just dollars.

Tiny nonprofits often lack oversight

Tiny nonprofits, often formed in the wake of tragedy, often are not registered with state agencies and some don’t have boards of directors, leaving donors to give on faith, reported April 27. Such local groups in Albany have shown no indications of wrongdoing, but experts stress continued prudence and accountability.

N.Y.C. Council inquiry may expand

The federal inquiry into New York City Council members who funneled discretionary funds to fictional nonprofits, or groups with conflicts of interest, may be expanding, The New York Times reported April 30. Investigators are questioning nonprofits that received money from the Council, and the funds of at least one have been frozen and two Council aides have been indicted.

In brief:

* The founder and CEO of Cary’s Mission House for Women pleaded guilty to North Carolina state income tax violations, The News and Observer of Raleigh, N.C. reported April 29.

* Robert G. Torricelli, a former U.S. senator from New Jersey, contributed $1.6 million in leftover campaign funds to the Rosemont Foundation, which he founded last year to advance causes like cancer research and open-space preservation, The New York Times reported April 30.

* U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama is returning a $2,300 contribution to his campaign from Aiham Alsammarae, Iraq’s former electricity minister who posted bail for onetime Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko, The Chicago Sun Times reported April 29.

* The UN is trying to encourage rich Arab nations to channel more foreign aid to international projects instead of bilateral projects that favor the Arab or Muslim world, The Financial Times reported April 30.

* Israel is expected to face harsh criticism for a series of restrictions on the Palestinian economy in the impoverished West Bank at Friday’s international donor conference in London, The Independent reported April 30.

* Kansas resident Michael W. Slayton pleaded guilty two federal counts related to the embezzlement of $238,000 from Designs 4 Life, the Topeka nonprofit he co-founded, The Associated Press reported April 29.

* Members of the Rockefeller family have added their support to those who want Exxon Mobil Corp. to split the chairman and chief executive jobs, The Dallas Morning News reported April 28. John D. Rockefeller founded the company’s predecessor, Standard Oil.

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