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Nonprofit news roundup for June 24, 2008

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Gates leaving Microsoft for foundation

As Bill Gates prepares leave Microsoft June 27 in order to devote more time to his philanthropy, he faces the challenge of reining in the “startup-style” tumult at his foundation caused by the sudden influx of Warren Buffett’s money and a ballooning staff struggling to keep pace, MSNBC reported June 23 (see Gates Foundation story). Yet critics say the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, currently overseen by three trustees, must decentralize in order to “earn the mantle of global leadership” for a foundation whose combined assets one day will exceed the budgets of 70 percent of all countries.

Survey suggests religious tolerance in U.S.

Though most Americans say religion is important to them, nearly three-quarters say they believe many faiths besides their own can lead to salvation, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life (see Pew religious tolerance story). The findings appear to undercut conventional wisdom that people who are more committed to religion are less tolerant of other faiths.

Nursing-home system challenged

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is considering throwing its considerable weight behind a 48 year-old physician’s vision of smaller, homelike care facilities for the elderly, The Wall Street Journal reported June 24 (see nursing home story). The eight-year-old “Green Houses” movement aims to replace large nursing homes and currently has 41 facilities in 10 states, but with additional foundation support, founder Bill Thomas hopes to open Green House locations in all 50 states.

UNICEF cuts ties to Israeli donor

UNICEF, the U.N. children’s fund, has severed ties with Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev after uncovering “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the real estate developer’s companies were building Israeli settlements in occupied territories, Reuters reported June 20 (see UNICEF story). Leviev, the richest man in Israel, has supported UNICEF with direct contributions and has sponsored at least one UNICEF fundraiser.

Tories push ‘American-style philanthropy’ for arts

The British conservative party, the Tories, has outlined an arts policy that prioritizes fostering “an American-style culture of philanthropy” for U.K. arts groups, The Guardian of London reported June 24 (see Tories’ arts plan story). To help build a culture of philanthropy, the political party would strengthen gift aid, the British system of tax credits for charitable donations, and loosen and simplify regulations on benefactor recognition.

Filling in the ‘missing middle’ class

Humanitarian-aid veterans David Ormesher and Chris Hills aim to bolster the “missing middle,” an entrepreneurial class capable of building shared wealth and independence in communities around the world, Barbara Rose said in a column in The Chicago Tribune June 23 (see middle class article). They recently founded Global Relief and Development Partners to link U.S. executives in one-on-one mentoring relationships with business owners in emerging countries, with an initial focus on Rwanda.

Boston nonprofit proposes restructuring

A Boston nonprofit that serves victims of violence has proposed a restructuring with the goal of paying off $700,000 in debt for delinquent payroll taxes, The Boston Globe reported June 22 (see Brockton Family article). Brockton Family and Community Resources Inc. is awaiting a bankruptcy-court ruling and says the filing was not a death knoll, but rather has helped streamline services.

In Brief:

* U.S. authorities have frozen all U.S.-based assets of the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, a charity headquartered in Saudi Arabia that has been accused of funneling money and other support to al-Quaida, The Washington Post reported June 19.

* Journalist Bob Woodward is defending the speaker’s fees he receives for talks and the nature of the private philanthropy they feed, said Deborah Howell in a column in The Washington Post June 22.

* The Lilly Endowment has given $50 million toward relief from recent flooding and other disasters in Indiana, The Republic of Columbus, Indiana reported June 23.

* Saudia Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has proposed creating a $1 billion OPEC fund and offered $500 million in loans to help poor countries with high oil prices, Reuters reported June 22.

* Moses Ole Kinayia, whose quest for a master’s degree from Seattle University was interrupted for years while he herded cattle in his native Kenya, has founded ELAND, a nonprofit to help other Kenyan students afford school, The Seattle Times reported June 16.

* Two Los Angeles classical music contests last weekend kept the spirit of expatriate pianists Iturbi and Rachmaninoff alive and helped young artists launch their careers, The Los Angeles Times reported June 20.

* A Minneapolis start-up company has launched NEED Magazine to tell stories about humanitarian work the mainstream media ignores, Finance and Commerce reported June 20.

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