Nonprofit news roundup for May 2, 2008

U.S. foundations set giving record

U.S. foundations gave a record $43 billion last year, according to estimates by the Foundation Center, The New York Times reported May 2. The center attributed the increase to strong returns on assets and a record $36.6 billion in new gifts to foundations.

Attracting bottom-line donors

Groups like Social Innovation Forum are trying to help nonprofits learn the art of appealing to a breed of donor used to seeing results, not emotional appeals, The Boston Globe reported April 30. Many philanthropically-minded executives have little time to research worthy causes, so the Forum introduces them to promising potential beneficiaries – after putting these groups through a scrubbing-up process that includes management consulting and executive coaching.

A ‘hub’ for Hispanic nonprofits

Only 1.2 percent of national-foundation grants go to Hispanic nonprofits, and San Francisco-based Hispanics in Philanthropy seeks to buck this trend, Steven Van Yoder said in a column at May 1. A self-described “bridge” between Hispanic-focused nonprofits and funders, the group has raised $35 million and made grants to 427 nonprofits in the last quarter century.

Private equity goes green?

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co., a private equity firm and buyout giant, is partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund to improve the environmental performance of the dozens of businesses it owns, The New York Times reported May 1. The partnership could have broad implications for business operations and might pressure the company’s rivals to follow suit.

Groups aim to help families escape poverty

Latin American aid groups have found a successful way of addressing poverty in a form of direct aid to families known as “conditional cash transfer,” which amounts to a monthly stipend conditional on children’s school attendance, health care, and adequate nutrition, Inter Press Service reported April 26. The practice has been adopted by U.S. charity Opportunity NYC, and a debut in Britain and other European countries may be in the works, The Economist reported March 13.

Corporate sustainability has bottom-line benefits

Corporate sustainability initiatives go further than a concern for the environment, The Financial Times reported April 27. Companies are using their sustainability programs to cut costs, develop innovative products and find new consumer markets

In Brief:

* Conoco Phillips has donated $15 million to the University of Alaska Anchorage, the largest corporate donation in the university’s history, The Anchorage Daily News reported April 30.

* Maryland is challenging the $18 million pay package of William Jews, former CEO of nonprofit health insurer CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, The Washington Business Journal reported April 28.

* The son of a donor who bequeathed $1 million to Michigan State University has asked the school to return a portion to his mother, who he says never received child support payments from his father, The Associated Press reported April 29.

* Israel is facing unjust criticism by nonprofits of its behavior in the Gaza Strip, criticism that even the “most trusted” of nonprofit actors, medical human rights groups, echo, Daniel Fink said in an opinion column April 30.

* Efforts by Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, N.J., to tackle the problem of prisoner re-entry are part of a growing national movement lead by local and state politicians, nonprofits and foundations, The New York Times reported April 27.

* Cultural institutions in Prague, Czech Republic, are fighting municipal funding cuts of up to 80 percent with rallies, demonstrations and petitions, The Prague Post reported April 30.

* Seed handouts, particularly during crisis, can create a culture of dependency and undermine local markets and diversity of staple crops, according to a new study, Africa Science News reported May 1.

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