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Nonprofit news roundup for May 13, 2008

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Gates Foundation names Raikes as CEO

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has named Jeff Raikes, former president of Microsoft’s business division, as its new chief executive officer, The Seattle Times reported May 12. The Times said Raikes, who also has his own family foundation with $112 million in assets, succeeds Patty Stonesifer and shares a similar profile — a “trusted insider” little known outside the software industry; an external recruiting firm had produced about 150 potential candidates, among them political, academic and business leaders.

Youth activism getting younger, more cost-effective, Kristof says

Young activists and philanthropists are getting ever younger and more cost-effective, and not all their efforts are targeted at college applications, Nicholas Kristof said in a column in The New York Times May 11. U.S. high-school students and even elementary-age children are working online and collaboratively to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for causes half a world away, Kristof said.

Disaster aid updates

President Bush, many European governments and most major international aid agencies have expressed their readiness to aid China in the wake of the earthquake in Sichuan province, though experts say it is too early to tell how much will be needed, The Guardian reported May 12. The U.S. made its first aid delivery to Myanmar today, but aid workers say much more is needed as scores of U.N. workers and private aid groups continue to wait for visas from the reclusive government, The Wall Street Journal reported May 12.

Nature Conservancy hires exec, bolsters cooperation with financial sector

U.S. environmental group The Nature Conservancy has appointed Mark Tercek of Goldman Sachs as its new president and CEO, Reuters reported May 9. Some say the move opens “innovative possibilities” for collaboration between environmental groups and the economic sector as the two increasingly work more closely together to tackle problems like climate change and deforestation. Tercek headed the investment bank’s environmental markets center and its environmental strategy group.

Calif. nonprofit ordered to stop feeding homeless

A California nonprofit has filed a federal lawsuit against state park officials for blocking volunteers from feeding homeless people in a park in a gathering that officers called an “unlawful assembly” prohibited under state law, The Los Angeles Times reported May 9. Welcome INN and the ACLU claim the law governing assembly in state parks is “unconstitutionally broad.”

Foundation offers plan to widen health insurance

The Commonwealth Fund has proposed a new U.S. health-care plan that would achieve near-universal coverage by building on the current employer-based system, Reuters reported May 13. Published in the May/June issue of Health Affairs, the proposal would create a government body to sell lower-priced health insurance to small businesses and individuals, reducing to 3.6 million the number of Americans without insurance.

In Brief:

* Investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett has taken unprecedented steps to ensure that his philosophies of investing, ethics and philanthropy reach future audiences, writing annual letters to his shareholders, hand-picking his biographer, and mentoring business students, The Omaha World-Herald reported May 3.

* Charities say they are missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars as private recyclers, growing numbers of second-hand shops, and the low quality of new clothing reduce donations, The Messenger Community News of Adelaide, Australia reported April 28.

* Social entrepreneurs challenge the fuzzy ideology that not-for-profit is somehow more noble than for-profit, when it’s how the profits are earned and what they are used for that’s the defining difference, Cheryl Kernot said in a column in The Courier Mail of Brisbane May 9.

* Randall Bourscheidt, president of New York City arts-advocacy group Alliance for the Arts, answers readers’ questions about the economic health of the city’s arts industry in a New York Times blog May 7 and 9.

* An Afghan plan to build 34 government-regulated madrassas, or religious schools, to counter radical versions used as Taliban recruiting grounds is foundering under a lack of international financial support, The Financial Times reported May 13.

* Bermudian banker Cummings Zuill strives to encourage other white Bermudians to realize that racial harmony begins with personal development, The Bermuda Sun reported April 30.

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