Nonprofit news roundup for May 23, 2008

Bill proposes graduate scholarships for public service

A bill introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday would create graduate-level scholarships for scientists, doctors, economists and other highly-skilled professionals who commit to public service, Stephan Barr said in a column in The Washington Post May 23. Recipients would be called Roosevelt Scholars and be required to serve three years in a federal agency after graduation.

Myanmar agrees to allow foreign aid

The U.S. government’s relief arm welcomed an announcement by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Myanmar’s government has agreed to let in all foreign-aid workers, calling the concession “very promising,” Agence France-Presse reported May 23. But Jonathan Head says in a BBC analysis that the seeming breakthrough could quickly become mired in the details, such as whether workers will be allowed into the most-afflicted areas and whether they will have to continue to run relief operations through the Burmese army.

Art museums trade galas for private dinners

Art museums are moving away from traditional fundraising galas toward providing private tours, dinners and cocktail receptions at the homes of artists and art collectors, The Canadian Press reported May 22. The change in tactics comes as dollars grow increasingly hard to come by and the average age of collectors and patrons drops in some cities.

Flexible work schedules at nonprofits praised

Flexible work schedules are becoming more common at a number of “high-stress, low-budget” nonprofits, The Boston Globe reported May 18. Such flexibility often helps recruit and retain talent.

CDCs attract younger generation

College and high-school students are discovering a passion for neighborhood organizing through work with community development corporations, or CDCs, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported May 19. Academia’s interest in nonprofit management and a return of investment to city neighborhoods have made Pittsburgh’s organizations attractive training grounds.

British watchdogs groups to police direct-mail gifts

British charity-watchdogs groups have been asked by the Institute of Fundraising to police fundraisers who send out unsolicited gifts with the aim of encouraging giving through financial guilt, The Guardian of London reported May 22. The mandate comes as the British Charity Commission releases research showing 50 percent of those surveyed believe nonprofits are using “dubious” fundraising techniques.

In Brief:

* In the weeks since Myanmar’s cyclone and the earthquake in China, U.S. donors have given $57 million to disaster-relief charities, compared to $207 million donated in the first five days after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, The Washington Post reported May 23.

* A major fundraising effort has collected nearly $35 million to protect 342,000 acres of forest in eastern Maine from development, The Associated Press reported  May 20.

* The value of entrepreneurship is often lost to those who see the drive to cure social ills as a “zero-sum” battle between capital and labor, and who believe more laws, taxes and regulation are the only answer, Luke Johnson said in a column in the Financial Times May 21.

* Reducing gas usage is the object of an online consumer-education effort launched by The Wal-Mart Foundation and nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy, PRWeek reported May 16.

* Tzu Chi, a Taiwanese Buddhist charity, is earning a reputation in global disaster relief as a first responder to tragedies like the recent earthquake in China and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, The Financial Times reported  May 20.

* British nonprofit Humanitarian Forum seeks to unite Muslim and Western charities in aid efforts in four countries: Yemen, Kuwait, Sudan and Indonesia, The Yemen Times reported May 19.

* More than 60,000 Ethiopian children already require special feeding to survive as famine worsens following the absence of rains, the BBC reported May 20.

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