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Nonprofit news roundup for May 16, 2008

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Red Cross asks for $7 million from government

The American Red Cross, which traditionally has avoided asking for federal funds, is requesting $7 million from the U.S. government to help the charity meet federal disaster-plan requirements, The New York Times reported May 16. The national nonprofit, struggling with a $200 million deficit, is laying off one-third of its national employees and paring regional management.

U.S. universities face competition for foreign students

Though applications from foreign students to U.S. graduate schools have recovered from their post-9/11 decline, the rate of enrollment growth is slowing as other countries’ university systems become more competitive, National Public Radio reported May 11. Australia now enrolls 200,000 foreign graduate students at 39 universities, compared to U.S. enrollments of 600,000 at 2500 schools, and countries that traditionally send the most students to the U.S., including China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea, now are keeping many students in their own rapidly-improving programs.

U.S. religious donations to developing world hit $8.8 billion

U.S. donations from religious congregations of all denominations to developing countries hit $8.8 billion in 2006, according to the first nationwide survey, The Christian Post Reporter reported May 14. The number represents 37 percent of all foreign U.S. government aid, with more than half of American congregations giving an average of $10,500 to U.S. organizations for relief and development in other countries, and over 30 percent giving directly to programs in developing countries.

Chinese philanthropy rallies around quake victims; transparency necessary, officials say

China’s disaster-relief authorities agreed to allow supervision of the spending of donated funds collected from across the country for earthquake victims, said a China View article May 14 that was followed by a list of money raised to date. Chinese citizens are lining up to donate blood, and domestic donations had reached 1.3 billion yuan, or $192 million, by Tuesday, a notable sum for a country without a strong tradition of philanthropy, Reuters reported May 15.

Nonprofit model uncertain solution for newspapers   

The notion that a nonprofit business model could offer a solution to the ailing newspaper industry has been “in the air” for several years now, and the success of nonprofit news agencies like MinnPost.com, founded last November, tests that proposition, Rick Edmonds said in a blog at The Poynter Institute May 8. Yet papers with similar models, like the St. Petersburg Times, which combines private ownership with a low profit margin, are nonetheless getting hit by newspaper-industry woes, Jean Yves Chainon said in a blog at The Editors Weblog May 13.

In Brief:

* NARAL Pro-Choice America, a reproductive-rights advocacy group, endorsed U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, creating an uproar among some of its affiliates and other similar groups that say the Democratic candidates’ records on reproductive rights are equally strong, The New York Times reported May 16.

* Roxanna Brown, director of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum at Bangkok University, died of an apparent heart attack while in custody at Seattle’s Federal Detention Center, where she was being held for alleged wire fraud, The Seattle Times reported May 15.

* The “$100 laptop,” inexpensive, open-source computers developed by One Laptop Per Child for distribution among developing-world children, now will run Windows thanks to a partnership with Microsoft, the rival it once derided, drawing complaints that the group has abandoned its educational mission, The Associated Press reported May 16.

* LGBT donors look for effectiveness, results and institutional stability in potential beneficiaries, but many such donors say they don’t give because they don’t have enough information about opportunities to contribute, says a new study, The Bay Area Reporter reported May 15.

* Many African nonprofits are facing succession problems of a family nature, as nepotistic directors, many of whom call on political leaders to give way to fairly-chosen successors, fail to lead by example, Bhekinkosi Moyo said in a blog at Thought Leader May 15.

* Business-technology firm Acumen Solutions is offering a new leadership initiative to train some of its managers to join Washington, D.C.-area nonprofit boards, The Washington Post reported May 14.

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