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Nonprofit news roundup for June 18, 2008

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Red Cross disaster fund depleted

The American Red Cross has depleted its national disaster-relief fund and is taking out loans to continue aid to victims of flooding in the Midwest, The Washington Post reported June 17 (see Red Cross story). Charity officials estimate the flood relief will cost from $15 million to $40 million, of which the Red Cross has raised $3.2 million to date.

China publishes foreign corporate donor list

To combat the crusade against “international misers” that has become popular among China’s Internet citizens, the country’s Ministry of Commerce has published a list of the top foreign corporate donors to earthquake-relief funds, The Wall Street Journal reported June 18 (see China story). Swiss industrial firm Tetra Laval Group tops the list, which names 452 companies that together have pledged 1 million yuan, nearly $2 million, of the total $494.2 million donated by foreign firms.

Churches espouse fair trade

Fair trade is finding some of its most loyal supporters in religious organizations, BusinessWeek reported June 18 (see fair trade gospel story). For many churches, the fact that fair-trade principles align with their values and appeal to youth has driven them not only to preach the fair-trade gospel, but to invest in companies that walk the fair-trade line.

Indian ‘feudal’ charity apparent in ‘hunger cafés’

Mumbai’s “hunger cafés,” where men wait conspicuously on the curb for a passerby to pay for their meal, are indicative of a style of philanthropy unique to India’s lingering “feudal” culture, The New York Times reported June 17 (see hunger café story). Anonymous “checkbook” charity has not caught on among the middle class, where the most common acts of charity include those like paying for a driver’s surgery or a maid’s children’s tuition.

Blair on charity

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair shares advice on working in the nonprofit sector gleaned from his post-politics experience of setting up charities for sports, climate change, African governance and interfaith cooperation in a column in The Guardian of London June 18 (see Blair column). Nonprofit professionals should look for partnerships and synergy, be flexible and seize new opportunities, and “genuinely welcome” collaboration with others, Blair says.

In Brief:

* Arca Foundation President Donna Edwards has won a special election to become the first black woman to represent Maryland in Congress, The Associated Press reported June 17.

* A portion of the $85 million in hurricane-relief supplies given away by FEMA as federal surplus will be sent back to Louisiana nonprofits for distribution to Katrina victims, WIBW reported June 18.

* Cambridge University will change the name of one of its colleges for the first time in 50 years to honor an alumnus’ donation of 30 million pounds, or $58.7 million, The Guardian of London reported June 18.

* The IRS is enforcing only a “wink-wink” rule on pastors who get involved in politicking, making at best a “murky” distinction between what can and can’t be said, Charles C. Haynes said in an opinion column in The Mountain Mail.

* Zimbabwe has lifted a pre-election ban on charity food distribution and AIDS work, but nonprofits say they still have little access to many in need, Agence France-Presse reported June 18.

* The heiress dog of Leona Helmsley has seen her fortune reduced from $12 million to $2 million, as a judge reassigned $10 million to Helmsley’s charitable foundation, The New York Times reported June 17.

* The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is promoting use of wind energy in North Carolina and Virginia to build industry and alleviate climate change, The Virginian-Pilot reported June 13.

* A nonprofit housing group in Tampa, Fla., has rejected $300,000 from the county Affordable Housing Office, which faces a federal investigation, The Tampa Tribune reported June 13.

* Social enterprises are catching on among Singaporean business-school students as a way to help the poor without resorting to “the charity model” that has made many skeptical, The Straits Times reported June 18.

* Paul McCartney gave a charity concert in Kiev, billed as the biggest concert ever in the former Soviet Union, The Associated Press reported June 14. The proceeds of more than $600,000 will fund diagnostic equipment for the children’s department at Ukraine’s National Cancer Institute.

* Women prisoners, most of whom have committed nonviolent offences, would be better served by local supervision or support centers than state prisons, according to several British nonprofits, The Charities Aid Foundation reported June 18.

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