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Nonprofit news roundup for June 25, 2008

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California foundation-diversity bill dropped

A California lawmaker dropped a piece of legislation that would have required foundations to disclose the ethnic composition of their staffs and associates after 10 of the state’s largest funders agreed to a multimillion-dollar, multiyear investment in minority communities, The Sacramento Bee reported June 24 (see foundation diversity story). Opponents said the bill would have imposed racial diversity on charities and driven donors out of state.

Head of MacArthur Foundation stepping down

Jonathan Fanton, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, says he will step down in September 2009 in compliance with the foundation’s term-limit policy, The Chicago Tribune reported June 24 (see MacArthur Foundation story). The MacArthur board will begin a search for his successor this week.

Terrorism suit probes donor liability

A Chicago federal appeals court has ordered an unusual “en banc” hearing by all its active judges in a case that seeks to determine whether charities and individual donors can be held financially liable for murder if there is no proof they intended their donation for such purposes, The Fort Mill Times reported June 23 (see Boim murder story). Three charities and one individual have been accused by the parents of Daniel Boim, an American student killed in a drive-by shooting on the West Bank, of funding the Hamas terrorists convicted for killing their son.

Nonprofits find new ways to shape election

Progress Now, a nonprofit organization, is building a network to help progressive organizations in all 50 states coordinate and deliver their election-year messages to activists, National Public Radio reported June 25 (see Nonprofits election story). One of a number of progressive nonprofits quietly mobilizing to influence the upcoming presidential election, the group takes a “high tech, low cost” approach to political advocacy.

‘Curmudgeon’s’ gift to Panama’s poor kids sparks legal battle

“Gruff octogenarian” Wilson C. Lucom surprised his family by leaving millions of dollars through his will to a foundation that aids the poor children of Panama, The New York Times reported June 25 (see Panama children story). But so far not a single child has benefitted from what would be one of the largest, if not the largest, charitable donations in Panama’s history, thanks to a vicious, four-country legal battle set off by his widow.

In Brief:

* U.S. national parks were given a “fair” rating in a recent report by the National Parks Conservation Association, which says the nation’s parks are underfunded and understaffed, The Associated Press reported June 24.

* The San Francisco mayor’s proposed budget continues to increase the longstanding salary gap between nonprofits and other city workers, Randy Shaw said in a column for BeyondChron June 24.

* One hundred twenty Canadian charities have signed a new code of ethics that promises donor honesty, The Toronto Star reported June 19.

* New Jersey churches cannot be sued by nonmembers, a judge has ruled, thanks to a state law protecting nonprofits from beneficiaries of their missions, The Associated Press reported June 24.

* Commongood Careers, a Boston-based headhunter for nonprofits, has opened a branch in San Francisco, The Boston Business Journal reported  June 24.

* The University of Louisville in Kentucky is opening a new “one-stop” resource, research and training center on autism, The Courier-Journal reported June 24.

* Bids had reached $40,100 on Monday for a lunch with Warren Buffett, who will donate proceeds to the Glide Foundation of San Francisco, Reuters reported June 23.

* The foundation of Italian businessman Raffaello Follieri, of which his former girlfriend actress Anne Hathaway was a board member, has been placed under investigation by the New York attorney general’s office, The Associated Press reported June 24. Follieri has just been arrested on charges of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

* California nonprofit Soil Born Farms hopes to sprinkle urban farms throughout Sacramento neighborhoods to provide affordable, healthy food for residents, The Sacramento Bee reported June 25.

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