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Nonprofit news roundup for June 17, 2008

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Mortgage lenders pledge speedier aid

Major mortgage lenders have pledged to streamline and speed up assistance to distressed homeowners under new voluntary guidelines to be released today, The Washington Post reported June 17 (see mortgage article). The new guidelines replace a similar plan announced in February by Hope Now, an alliance of lenders and nonprofits.

Nonprofit ‘muddies’ McCain message

A Washington think tank set up by allies of presidential hopeful John McCain has “muddied” the senator’s reform message through allegations that it has broken rules requiring charitable organizations to identify donors on tax filings, The Chicago Tribune reported June 17 (see Reform Institute story). Though it calls itself nonpolitical, critics say the Reform Institute’s agenda has closely mirrored key elements of the McCain platform.

The new face of Christian worship

Both Catholic and mainline Protestant congregations face falling attendance at worship services, and many Protestants denominations have not adopted the aggressive church consolidations Catholic dioceses have undertaken, The Boston Globe reported June 15 (see church attendance article). Meanwhile, a new generation of churches is spreading a strain of evangelical Christianity through “slickly-packaged” worship services on DVD that anchor multiple global congregations to a single leader, The Wall Street Journal reported June 13 (see DVD churches story).

Profiting from the poor in Latin America?

Some development agencies believe the recent trend among banks and Fortune 500 companies of targeting products and services to Latin America’s poorest sectors could help alleviate poverty, The Guardian of London reported June 17 (see Latin America article). Yet profiting from the poor requires a different marketing strategy and, its critics say, a strong dose of ethical skepticism.

In Brief:

* European pharmaceutical companies, led by GlaxoSmithKline, outperform their U.S. peers in making medicines available to the poor, The Financial Times reported June 16.

* Bureaucratic obstacles to state funding for New York nonprofits have persisted for decades despite complaints from nonprofit groups, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported June 17.

* As 4.6 million of its citizens face starvation, Ethiopia has launched an urgent appeal for more than $300 million in emergency aid from international donors, The BBC reported June 12.

* Two Stanford Business School graduates are aiming to convert rural India and China from kerosene to solar-powered lighting through an award-winning business plan that has caught the eye of venture capitalists, Forbes reported June 16.

* Baltimore City Council members are investigating spending by the nonprofit Safe & Sound Campaign, which recently demanded $3 million in city funds by staging a five-day hunger strike by students, The Washington Examiner reported June 16.

* The 21-year-old general manager of a fast-growing Colorado theater, who also is one of the state’s main advocates for the arts on a federal level, got his start as a latchkey kid and juvenile delinquent, Fort Collins Now reported June 12.

* Kuwait has rejected a U.S. accusation that a Kuwaiti charity was funding terrorist activities, Reuters reported June 16.

* Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the budget committee, will give $10,500 to charity in response to reports that he was given special treatment under a VIP program run by embattled mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, The Financial Times reported June 16.

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