Nonprofit news roundup for June 12, 2008

FEMA redirects $85 million in Katrina donations

Despite continuing need among Katrina victims, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has redirected $85 million in donated items and household supplies originally intended for hurricane victims, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported June 12 (see FEMA article). Government officials are scrambling to track the agency’s discarded items and reroute them to UNITY of Greater New Orleans, which says it needs the goods.

NEA profiles arts’ impact on economy

In 2005, nearly 2 million Americans, double the ranks of the U.S. army, listed their primary employment as artist, according to a recent profile of professional artists by the National Endowment for the Arts, The New York Times reported June 12 (see NEA story). The report emphasizes the immense impact of the arts on financial and social prosperity.

Blood-supply groups under fire for mismanagement, exclusion

Federal regulators have fined the American Red Cross $1.7 million for continued failures to adequately manage the nation’s blood supply, the latest of several fines under an agreement intended to eliminate chronic problems with blood safety The Washington Post reported June 10 (see Red Cross story). Meanwhile, university campuses in Northern California are protesting a longstanding prohibition against blood donation by gay men, NPR reported June 11 (see blood ban story).

Philanthropic family cuts tobacco tie

The Tisch family, long known in New York for philanthropic projects ranging from a New York children’s zoo, art galleries and hospital to a brain tumor center at Duke University, has removed tobacco from the portfolio of their conglomerate, Loews, The New York Times reported June 11 (see Tisch article). Loews’ spin-off of its tobacco unit, which produces the Newport brand of cigarettes, has added heat to the controversy over the brand’s popularity among black smokers.

Land conservation tax break gets extension, upgrade

A temporary federal tax break on donating land-development rights is now set to be extended through 2009, The Washington Post reported June 11 (see farm bill story). Under the extended incentive on “conservation easements,” farmers and ranchers can offset up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income, meaning landowners who give only development rights to a conservation group could benefit more than those who give a piece of land outright.

Arca Foundation president fronts new politics

Supporters see Donna F. Edwards, president of the Arca Foundation and the Democratic nominee for a Maryland seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, as the face of a new progressive politics, The Washington Post June 12 (see Arca article). Edwards has spent her career as a public-interest lawyer and community activist, unwilling to trade her “passion for working in the nonprofit sector” for a higher-paying job, even after a divorce that left her temporarily homeless.

In Brief:

* $14 million will be distributed to Ohio charities in the largest “cy pres” charitable distribution in history, The News-Herald of Willougby, Ohio reported June 12.  “Cy pres” is a practice in which companies convicted in a class-action suit donate unclaimed funds to charity.

* Houston Rockets player Yao Ming launched a foundation focusing on children’s welfare in China and the U.S., HOOPSWORLD Wire Service reported June 10.

* Most San Diego County residents think nonprofits deliver quality services, but believe they should do a better job explaining their work, according to a recent survey, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported June 12.

* The city council in Durham, N.C., reversed a significant portion of the $118,000 in proposed funding cuts to arts groups, The Independent Weekly reported June 11.

* At least seven defense contracts awarded to charities by the Pentagon are currently under investigation, The Washington Post reported June 7.

* Facing declining attendance and a looming budget deficit, the Boston Museum of Science laid off 10 percent of its 400-person staff, The Boston Globe reported June 11.

* California’s ban on electronic bingo has been blocked temporarily thanks to a motion filed by two charities that depend on the game’s proceeds, The Associated Press reported June 5.

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