Nonprofit news roundup for May 29, 2008

New Form 990 could help donors

The IRS’s redesign of the Form 990 information filing for tax-exempt groups will make it easier for donors to evaluate the charities they support, The Wall Street Journal reported May 29. The new form, which the IRS hopes will improve transparency in the nonprofit sector, will be used for the first time in 2009 for filing 2008 information.

Mega-gala’s take down 21 percent this year

The Robin Hood Foundation raised $56.5 million in one night during its annual benefit in May, down 21 percent from last year’s take of $71 million, a drop that reflects the “somber mood on Wall Street,” the New York Times reported May 29. The event, which was held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City and drew more than 3,700 people, raises money to fund anti-poverty efforts.

Quake leading to rise of civil society in China

In the wake of the earthquake in China, the country’s businesses and people have donated about $1 billion in aid for victims, a new spirit of volunteerism is emerging, and unofficial aid groups are sprouting up, developments that at some point could test the patience of the country’s communist government, Leslie Hook said in an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal May 29. For now, however, the government and civic organizations are working together to deal with the quake’s aftermath.

Mott Children’s Center involved in stock dispute

As the second-largest shareholder of stock in U.S. Sugar, the Flint, Mich.-based Mott Children’s Health Center, which is affiliated with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, is at the center of a vote over control of the corporation, the New York Times reported May 29. The children’s center’s stake in U.S. sugar is “essentially worthless,” and the charity’s ability to cast its vote for either the corporation’s employees or the Mott Foundation and family heirs, is in question.

Philadelphia asks Boy Scouts to admit gays or pay rent

The city of Philadelphia has given a local Boy Scouts chapter until Saturday to open its membership to gays or face paying fair-market rent of $200,000 a year, a steep increase from the annual $1 the council currently pays, The Associated Press reported May 27. A federal suit filed by the Boy Scouts accuses the city of censorship for targeting the Scouts, but not other groups that also limit membership and have a free or nominal lease with the city.

Three TV networks to stage live cancer benefit

ABC, CBS and NBC will set aside the same hour of prime-time television on the first Friday in September for a joint telethon benefitting cancer research, The New York Times reported May 28. The networks’ anchors, who encouraged the move, each have lost immediate family members to the disease.

In Brief:

* The wealthy should be taxed more, said over half the respondents in each of eight major countries surveyed in a recent Financial Times/Harris Poll study, Robert Frank said in a blog at The Wall Street Journal May 22.

* The Rockefellers may no longer be a force in business, as their failure in a recent shareholder battle over Exxon-Mobil’s environmental practices attests, but their philanthropic achievements and family spirit remain an example for America’s wealthy, Robert Frank said in a blog at The Wall Street Journal May 27.

* Lobbying campaigns by British charities are more effective than their for-profit counterparts, because they are less aggressive and offer better media opportunities, say members of the British parliament, The Times of London reported May 20.

* Abolishing the patent system as many charities are demanding will not increase access to much-needed drugs in the developing world, which would still be restricted by pharmaceutical-company profits and poor health infrastructure, Benedetto Della Vedova said in an opinion column in the International Herald Tribune May 27.

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